Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Leveraging Your Patient’s Strength


Excellent clinicians discover their patients talents to best deliver both recommendations and personalized care.

“Personomics,” a term coined by Dr. Roy Ziegelstein, is the study of our patients. Personomics is about learning your patients’ needs, goals, concerns, and support networks; these are the things that are important for engaging your patient in their care. While every clinician strives to connect with his or her patients, we may not be always able to do so. There are many barriers nowadays with EMR and limited time. We spend more time documenting than connecting.


A strengths-based approach

Identifying an individual’s top talents allows clinicians to be intentional about honing those into real strengths. This strengths-based approach focuses on what people are naturally good at and helps people identify how they can be better individuals. When clinicians understand their own strengths, they can be more aware of their areas of excellence, how to be their best, and identify potential blind spots when relating to patients and colleagues. With a strengths-based approach, patients can articulate what they need to make their best decisions and learn how they prefer to manage their care. Knowing these insights can help clinicians regain one of the most valuable assets in healthcare – time.


Quickly identifying and understanding the unique traits of patients can be a game-changer in medicine. Understanding patients’ needs and how to best communicate with them allows clinicians not only more time (and less frustration), but the opportunity to provide individualized patient care. Incorporating a strengths-based assessment as part of the intake process can provide the clarity needed to help understand patients more thoroughly at the beginning of the clinician/patient relationship. This knowledge creates a personalized discussion based on their strengths to build trust earlier and more quickly during the initial introduction.


Approaching patients through the lens of their strengths

Approaching patients through the lens of their strengths helps clinicians meet their needs more efficiently and effectively. For example, if your patient is strong in executing types of strengths, she may need a checklist after every appointment to encourage progress with her treatment plan. Another patient may need an extra day or two with additional information before confidently deciding if he is high in the strategic thinking domain strengths. If you walk into an exam room full of family members surrounding the patient, it may be essential to understand those dominant in relationship building always put people and their feelings first – and so must you. Then you can learn how to leverage to improve your patient’s motivation, relationships, and appreciate their uniqueness for better results in their care.


At the end of the day, all of us just want to be recognized for who we are and to connect with others. A strengths-based approach is one way to do that.


Bischoff: Working closely within the field of neurology as a certified strengths coach has provided a first-hand look at the positive impact of recognizing our natural talents as clinicians, as well as their patients. Understanding and intentionally developing strengths helps people communicate what they need to be their best, how they can work better with others, and how they can create more committed relationships in their personal and professional roles. In healthcare, as in almost all aspects of our lives, relationships are key.


Salas: This approach has been a game-changer for me as not only a mentor, coach, and physician, but as a person—so much that I became a certified strengths coach. Knowing the talents of my patients gives me insight on how to better connect with them. I use the language of their talents in how I deliver their recommendations; it is more personalized care to provide high-value care.