Published October 1, 2019 / All Stories
When Murali Gopal, M.D., was a medical student, he sat in an examination room, listening as his mentor chatted with a patient about his plaque psoriasis—a chronic condition that can lead to painful, itchy or burning plaques on the skin. Instead of checking off a list of clinical questions, the doctor asked a startingly simple one.
Can you push your lawn mower?
Dr. Gopal, who is now vice president of global health economics and outcomes research for immunology at AbbVie, says the interaction profoundly altered his view on what helping patients really means. This patient took pride in a well-manicured lawn. By listening to him over the course of treatment, Dr. Gopal’s mentor learned this important bit of data. To understand if the prescribed treatment was helping, he needed to know if the man’s life was improving.
“Doctors can no longer say to a patient, ‘This is what you’ve got, this is what I’m giving you, goodbye,’” Murali said. “Now I think what you see is more of an acceptance to hear from the patient and a desire to know what matters to the patient in order to make joint decisions.”