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Patients are confused with information overload, the healthcare system is complicated and doctors face challenges navigating it all. “Many people have many different physicians in their network of care. The average Medicare patient has nine providers,” says Dr. Pat Hopkins of the Hopkins Medical Group in Weymouth, Mass. “Patients are overwhelmed with even the correct path to take. What began to worry me were the bigger things that we had no control about. I think the challenges are enormous for the impact on health that crosses wealth. Everyone has to become knowledgeable.”

Dr. Steve Roberts sees patients starting to take an active role in their healthcare. “The patients who are going to do the best are the ones who are engaged in their own decision making,” says Dr. Roberts. “When I was growing up I‘d commonly hear things like ‘well, that this thing or that is associated with cancer.’ And these were common things in our food supply or everyday things we were exposed to. And friends would say, ‘well everything causes cancer, you have to live.’ My new thought process is I need to try to do the best I can with the information I have and know.”

Dr. Hopkins credits her mentors who helped lay the foundation for her approach to healthcare. “I was trained that a patient’s life is what made their visit important and if you didn’t understand that life, you shouldn’t be in the room with the patient.” Then along the way, a very personal event changed the way Dr. Hopkins started advising patients. “What basically led me to this point in my practice was having a child with spina bifida in 1988 and I couldn’t believe we didn’t know about folic acid in the late ’80s and it really was a turning point of my career. Folic acid, we didn’t even know when to start it.”

So it’s no surprise healthcare is very personal to Dr. Hopkins. “We are on the line for your healthcare. I take it personally and I say to all my patents, “you had a stroke, you had surgery, you have cancer. I see you through your course of treatment, it is never I’ll see you for your yearly physical because your wellness takes place those other 364 days, so what does that look like?”

Dr. Hopkins maintains a unique approach to treating patients. “I’m still excited about each patient and when some of the docs go ‘ohhh, isn’t it boring doing the same thing every day?’ and I think no two patients are alike, their needs are completely different. You’re invited into someone’s life. What other professional allows you to do that?”