It is easy to trash all doctors as commercially-minded. However, India has a number of doctors who go beyond just healing their patients. They take the effort to guide patients and get them involved in their care. These doctors are part of the patients’ family.
In this post, we introduce one such doctor, Dr. Pradeep Gadge, and share our Q & A with him.
Dr. Pradeep Gadge holds an MD in Medicine, DPH, Diploma in Diabetology, and FRSH (London).
He practices in Mumbai and has positively impacted the lives of over 50,000 patients. This includes treating over 3,000 pregnant diabetics and over 1,000 diabetic children.
Dr. Pradeep Gadge is known for treating diabetic patients and taking initiatives to educate people about diabetes care. In his own words, the one thing he is proud of is “The unbiased relationship and trust I share with my patients.”
You can learn more about his clinic from here.
Excerpts of the Q & A
Q: Doctor, let me take you back in time. When did you start laying emphasis on educating patients?
See, there’s no such separate phenomenon like “patient education”, I mean for me personally, the journey began much earlier. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that since the day one of my practice, I’ve been actively supporting, empowering, and educating the patients I meet.
Q: That’s interesting. But, even when you started, it must be an uncommon thing for a doctor to actively educate patients. Is there any trigger that made you start educating patients?
As we all are aware, any patient who suffers from any disease is loaded with too much information, and a list of Do’s and Don’ts from their friends, family, and colleagues.
Diabetes is one such disease where patients have their own beliefs. For e.g. certain food like karela can cure diabetes.
When I came across all these beliefs that the patients had, I realized it is not just medicine that can treat or control diabetes for long term. Rather, educating patient about the facts and making them inclined towards the right practice of managing their diabetes effectively is what helps them. I started taking efforts towards educating and spreading awareness amongst the patients and updating them with the recent and new schools of thought.
Q: Doesn’t spending time in educating patients reduce the number of patients that you see in a day?
Like I mentioned above, for me patient education is a part of the process. It comes as a byproduct of my treatment. And from what I’ve learnt, that is exactly what sets me apart from the other doctors. It encourages my patients to not only start believing in me, but also make other people around them believe me too. This actually adds to the number of patients I see, rather than reduce.
Q: I am curious. How does spending time and effort on educating patients help you in providing patient care?
Basically, bursting some lethal myths amongst patients helps. For example, having two meals a day can have bad consequences on their health. Each diabetic patient is different. I convince people to have small and frequent balanced meals without fasting or feasting. This helps them in controlling their blood sugar levels more smoothly. This approach avoids diabetes related complications and helps me in devising an effective treatment strategy.
Q: What benefits do you expect to see in patients by educating them? Can you share instances of the benefit that accrued to patients due to patient education?
I often quote this, “The most common symptom of diabetes is NO SYMPTOM” which basically means diabetes is diagnosed at a very late stage along with complications. A simple use of glucometer has helped patients diagnose their diabetes at an early stage, avoid complications, and contribute to an early start to his treatment.
Q: Hmm…How do you expect educating patients to help your practice?
The answer to this question is in continuation to an earlier one. See, when a patient is well educated and starts following the correct guidance, it will automatically translate into a positive health outcome. For example, most patients think that jaggery can be consumed by diabetic patients and it is not as harmful as sugar. But, that’s an incorrect piece of information. Once they understand that both come from sugarcane that has a high glycemic index which can spike their blood sugar levels. Now once this is well understood, they will make sure that they will avoid both jaggery and sugar, the next time, which will in turn help in controlling their blood sugar levels and avoid further complications.
And honestly, that’s what I wish to achieve through my practice, to have patients lead a healthy long life without any complications.
Q: Doctor, it’s good to talk about educating patients. Is there a method to this education? Do you have a defined process for educating patients?
My strategy to educate patient is very simple: To educate the patient in a language they understand and in a very basic manner. Showing scientific evidence and talking to patients will not work always.
For example, if a patient asks me what is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, I usually give them an example of a lock and a key – lock is body cells and key is the insulin. The guest coming to your place is the glucose.
In type 1 DM, the key is lost, so you buy a new key.
In type 2 DM, the key is rusted, so you repair it.
I also believe that along with explaining in simple language, it is very important to add humour to the conversations with the patient. See, diabetes by itself can be very depressive where a patient goes through a lot of psychological issues. Hence, I add fun to the conversation.
Q: The type of educational content that patients require differs with the stage of their journey for the protocol you choose. So, what is the typical patient journey and how does patient education fit into the journey?
I will give you an example. A patient, let’s call him XYZ, 8 years old, gets diabetes and gets started on insulin three times a day. His parents come to me with the hope that I’ll stop their child’s insulin.
Here, I need to educate the parents about the kind of diabetes their child has, why is it different from other diabetic patients, why he has to take insulin life long, why medicine will not work in his case, why he needs to monitor sugars more frequently. Appropriate counselling the parents plays a vital role in the management of diabetes for this child.
Thus, I counselled them and guided them to join JDF (Juvenile Diabetes Foundation). JDF is a registered trust that was set up in 1982 by a handful of doctors and parents of a few insulin-dependent diabetic children. The objective of the foundation is to provide moral support to diabetic children and youth, apart from catering to the physical, emotional, psychological, and medical needs of its members.
As a result, today, both the parents and the child are well updated with the condition and have accepted it in a positive way. They are living a healthy life without thinking of it as burden or disorder.
Q: It is my personal belief that the education process is best not left to the skill of the educator. So, what tools and assets do you use to educate patients?
That’s right. We use multiple tools and techniques. We have been actively hosting events such as “Diabetes Mela” and “Aarambh” for patient awareness. Recently, we also organised a specialized event, “Annual Sports Day” to imbibe the importance of exercise amongst diabetic patients.
Besides, as a everyday practice, at our centres, we arrange talks by diabetes educators, fun playing games, quizzes, etc. Apart from this, I’ve been constantly creating content over social media that empowers the drive.
Q: That’s nice to hear. All the same, how do you ensure that your patients rightly understand your messages?
Honestly, I take feedback’s from the patients.
For example, a patient comes with high post prandial blood sugar levels and gives blood sample two hours post-heavy breakfast.
We make him understand how this is a wrong approach & guide him towards the correct method. Owing to this, next time the patient makes sure he’s following the correct route and observes that blood sugar levels have gone down as compared to the previous reports. This boosts his confidence and he does it in a proper way.
Q: Do you see any opportunities for improvement in your education process?
Yes, the most common problem amongst the patient is that they are updated with half knowledge which is dangerous. They do not know the exact science or logic behind it.
So, we use many mediums through which we educate patients like doing activities, giving talks, playing skits, etc. But I feel that not only the patient, but their relatives and common people who are not the patient should also be updated with authentic knowledge.
Thus, I aim towards educating the mass at larger scale through various means of social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. I strongly believe that social media is an extremely powerful platform to connect with the masses and educate them towards right direction, and this includes reaching out to all age groups.
Here are his social media accounts and handles. Feel free to use these to connect with him.