Physician perspectives: Enoch Choi

Our twelfth and final physician perspectives article of 2013 is with Enoch Choi, who currently works as a physician of urgent care for the Palo Alto Foundation.

Every month over the past year, we’ve interviewed a physician to find out his or her views on the rise in social media, how physicians can better work with pharma and also with patients, and his or her opinion on where healthcare is headed in the future.

Our December physician is Enoch Choi, who currently works as a physician of urgent care for the Palo Alto Foundation. pharmaphorum’s Hannah Blake interviews Enoch to find out what inspired him to set up his own not-for-profit organisation, the Enoch Choi Foundation, and his thoughts on how the health industry can cope with the rising demand for urgent and emergency care while ensuring patient needs are still met.

Interview summary

HB: Hello Dr Choi, thank you for taking part in this interview. I understand you are a physician of urgent care for the Palo Alto Foundation. Please can you start by telling us a bit about this role, and also your background in the industry?

EC: After 12 years in serving same-day needs, I’ve grown to love providing relief of acute illness, from infections to stitching wounds; from assuaging anxiety to providing life saving care in preparation for hospitalization. I bring to this healing work a desire to optimize a connection with the patient and their family using technology to document the encounter with an EMR, provide ongoing asynchronous follow up with a PHR, with experience developing these tools professionally in an EMR company before I started practicing medicine .

“I bring to this healing work a desire to optimize a connection with the patient and their family using technology…”

HB: What inspired you to start your own non-for-profit organisation – the Enoch Choi Foundation?

EC: Seeing and responding to the needs of survivors of natural disasters. The aim of this organisation is to provide and organise healthcare providers to help in disasters.

HB: Have you been able to send medical professionals over to the Philippines?

EC: Yes. Our first team just finished a week in Tacloban, our next arrives Monday, and I lead our third team on December 14th.

HB: How can the health industry cope with the rising demand for urgent and emergency care while ensuring patient needs are met, in your opinion?

EC: By optimizing telemedicine to care for needs that do not require in-person service, more availability can be provided for emergency & same day needs. As insurers pay for quality rather than quantity of care, more of this will happen.

HB: What are the main challenges that urgent care physicians face?

EC: Developing trust with the patient, since it’s often the first time meeting the patient. Also, another challenge, is to make sure you don’t miss something serious.

HB: How can these challenges be overcome?

EC: Connecting with the patient by listening and really trying to understand their fears. You miss less of the serious illnesses when you carefully understand what the patients’ main concerns are. Using tests appropriately helps you screen for serious hidden problems.

HB: You also focus on trying to bridge the gap between technology and health – why is this so important?

EC: I serve patients the way they would like to be reached. In Silicon Valley, they want to reach me with their cell phones using our PAMF app “MyChart”, which allows them to securely ask me questions, get refills, referrals and send me biometric data from their attached devices that automatically collect data.

“The rise of social media has made it possible for physicians who are willing, to share their interests…”

HB: How has the rapid evolution of technology over the years contributed to the healthcare industry?

EC: Technology has contributed to improving healthcare as it has made it possible for people to more efficiently communicate their needs and provide the information necessary to let doctors make better decisions for their patients.

HB: Has the rise in social media affected your way of working as a physician?

EC: The rise of social media has made it possible for physicians who are willing, to share their interests and let the public know their passions and have a matching group of patients seek care from them.

HB: And finally, how do you think pharma and physicians could work better together?

EC: As pharma understand the special relationship patients have in trusting American physicians who do not directly dispense like in other countries, and realistically portray the efficacy of their pharmaceuticals, physicians will grow to trust them more.

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About the interviewee:

Enoch Choi is a full time family practice physician and a partner in the urgent care department at the Palo Alto Foundation.

He is also the Founder of the Enoch Choi Foundation, which sends medical professionals in short term deployments for disaster medical relief providing acute care, public health and spiritual care to develop and disseminate best practices. They are currently sending teams to Japan & Port Au Prince, Haiti. They have sent 4 teams to Japan and 10 teams to Haiti seeing hundreds of patients a day and delivering food & water to thousands including 3 water chlorinators providing tens of thousands clean water in the face of cholera. Donations of IT and green tech enabled us to use smartphones to add charts to the UN’s new national EMR, powered by donated solar electricity and solar flashlights.

How can pharma bridge the gap between technology and health?