Lakshmi K: A Gentle Reminder to Take Care of Health

May 12, 2022

“A simple phone call explaining things could change everything.”

Lakshmi K. attended medical school in India, moved to the U.S., got married, and worked as a researcher at Stanford University before moving to Chicago. She has been employed as a clinical interaction specialist for Conduent for 8 years. Drawing upon her own medical training and what she’s learned from thousands of conversations with Medicare recipients, Lakshmi gently addresses members’ fears and nudges them into action through open-ended listening and by providing gentle but authoritative information. “Making a person feel comfortable is very important, especially when you’re not face to face with them.”

 

Listen to Lakshmi in her own words.

 

Addressing misconceptions

Lakshmi frequently encounters members who don’t see the need for screenings. “They feel the status quo is good for them. They’re fine the way they are,” she says. “But then, that is our role, when we explain to them, ‘You know, a simple stool test or colonoscopy, though it is a little inconvenient, can go a long way. A precancerous polyp is removed right away rather than becoming full-blown colon cancer, which is more severe and difficult to encounter and to treat.’”

Reluctance to schedule mammograms often follows a previous painful experience. “Listening is very important. We have to listen to what they went through,” Lakshmi says, and she is quick to acknowledge the discomfort, but also put it into context. “Yes, there is pain involved, but the gain is far better than what they have to experience” during a brief mammogram. “Letting them know that facing reality is very important,” she says, because it eventually catches up with people. “You can bury yourself in the sand, and then finally end up in the hospital with complications.”

 

Most memorable call

For members who do want to stay up to date with screenings, a lack of reliable transportation can stymie their ability to show up on time or even at all. They fear calling back to reschedule because they think the doctor may have “black-listed” them. That was the case for one woman that Lakshmi called. “The worst thing was she was out of medication. She was actually very scared to call the doctor. She didn’t want me to call, either.”

But Lakshmi reassured the woman and made the call on her behalf to reschedule. She also asked the receptionist whether the woman’s prescriptions could be refilled. “She said, ‘Yes, of course!’ And then we took care of all of that, and [the member] was very happy. She didn’t know that a simple phone call explaining things could change everything.” Lakshmi also told the member that, on occasion, some doctors will provide transportation. “At the end we had a good conversation, and I was happy I could help her out.”

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