Paul Conway: Respect, Listening Are Keys to Engaging Patients in Kidney Care

November 9, 2019

The large number of patient participants at the American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week 2019 meeting reflects the understanding that patients should be elevated in the conversations around kidney care, said Paul Conway, chair of global affairs and public policy and immediate past president, American Association of Kidney Patients.

The large number of patient participants at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN)’s Kidney Week 2019 meeting reflects the understanding that patients should be elevated in the conversations around kidney care, said Paul Conway, chair of global affairs and public policy and immediate past president, American Association of Kidney Patients.

What are the best practices for engaging patients in their kidney care?

Well, first of all is respect, and the second one I think is listening to patients. So here we are at the largest kidney meeting in the world, an overwhelming number of nephrologists and researchers and that type of thing, and I think what’s nice this year about ASN is it’s the largest number of patient participants that are involved. It was the dedication of ASN to focus on that, and that’s a sign of something that answers your question, which is if you don’t respect a patient and take the time to listen and elevate the patient in the conversation, then you’re never really going to get all the other patients that they talk to to the point where they’re willing to open up and be engaged. So that’s an important thing, showing that you have an interest in listening.

But I think the most important strategic element that anybody that interacts with a patient has to keep in mind is this: The ideal standard of care is a treatment that matches the aspirations of the patient. And people miss this a lot, but if you want to have a job and you want to keep working, you want to have a family or have a car, put away money for retirement, visit your grandkids, you need to talk to that patient about the best care and best modality of care that they need to stay mobile and stay engaged in life.

I think that’s probably, if you start the conversation there, then everything else follows. But when a professional seems as if they don’t have enough time or they don’t care or they stereotype an individual as, let’s say, they’re overweight or they may be diabetic and “that person doesn’t take care of themselves, therefore I don’t need to invest more time in trying to figure out what they really want to do or talk to them about nutrition,” that’s when I think the doors and the barriers go up.