Chronic Condition Management: A Firsthand Discussion Podcast
For Your Benefits
For Your Benefits
Chronic Condition Management: A Firsthand Discussion
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Chronic Condition Management: A Firsthand Discussion

Chronic condition management is imperative when it comes to supporting those living with a chronic illness like cancer or diabetes.

In this special episode of For Your Benefits, SentryHealth’s VP of Client Experience, Denise St. Pierre shares her personal cancer journey.

Known as ‘TheOncDoc‘ on social media with more than 400,000 followers, Dr. Sanjay Juneja, Denise’s physician, chats with Denise about how education, prevention, and an integrated approach to care were key to her successful remission. They discuss:

  • The value of ongoing health education and support
  • How an integrative approach improves outcomes
  • The importance of regular preventive care
  • How data helps providers and patients make better health care decisions

Denise and Dr. Juneja share their personal experiences from both the patient and provider perspectives, providing insight into the value of chronic condition management to both.

Want to learn more about the value of chronic condition management to self-insured employers? Read our blog “Chronic Conditions: How They Affect Self-Insured Employers” to discover why it’s critical that self-insured employers address chronic conditions among employees.

In This Podcast

Dr. Sanjay Juneja, Hematology Oncology Clinic, Chronic Condition Management Podcast

Sanjay Juneja, MD

Sanjay Juneja is a triple board-certified Hematologist & Medical Oncologist. He’s also a social media educator and medical influencer with 500,000+ followers know as ‘TheOncDoc’. He received his medical degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) and went on to complete his Internal Medicine residency at LSU Health Sciences Center, awarded Resident of the Year every year of his training. Dr. Juneja completed a fellowship in Hematology & Oncology at the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center in Shreveport, LA, and served as Chief fellow his final year.

Denise St. Pierre, VP of Customer Experience, Chronic Condition Management Podcast

Denise St. Pierre, VP of Client Experience

Denise St. Pierre, Vice President of Client Experience for SentryHealth, has an extensive background leading client services and support where she implemented key strategies to increase retention and the client experience. In her current role, she is responsible for implementation and client experience initiatives that best serve our clients and their members.

Denise St. Pierre:

Welcome back, and thanks for joining this episode of For Your Benefits. I’m Denise St. Pierre, Director of Engagement Services for SentryHealth, and I’m excited to be able to host today’s episode. This podcast is presented by SentryHealth, creators of WellOnMyWay, an integrative employee health management solution.

We have a very special guest with us today to discuss how patients that have been diagnosed with a chronic condition can still have a positive outlook on their health journey. In this episode, we are chatting with Dr. Sanjay Juneja who is a hematologist, oncologist, The Onc Doc on TikTok with half a million followers, and someone who is near and dear to my heart. Welcome, Dr. Juneja. My introduction definitely doesn’t do you justice, so can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

Well, thank you for having me. I’m super excited, one, to be on the podcast, two, to be speaking with you, as I think we’ll mention our special relationship and how we got to know each other, and three, I’m grateful for anyone listening to this just because taking an interest in your health and really seizing ownership of it is just such a healthy thing, to use for lack of a better term. Moving forward, we sometimes lose focus of that with work. So, thank you for listening.

But yeah, as you said, my wife and I are blood and cancer specialists here and we did internal medicine before and have a lot of experience in the primary care setting with chronic conditions, just general wellness and health, and really found a big passion about educating people on some aspects of health-related stuff that help you, not necessarily do better, but lead healthy lives. And I know that sounds redundant now, but I think we’re trying to tease into that.

Yeah. Do you have that, the social media following that happened by serendipity. We were a year apart and my wife was starting a year before me in Southern Louisiana while I was training and started posting some little comedic anecdotes about the medical culture and things that people would find funny. And somehow that translated to wanting to educate people on blood and cancer and some healthcare issues where I think we need to support patients more. And I think it’s a system in some ways removing some of the care that patients deserve. So, that’s probably a different podcast, but I’m very just humbled to be able to share the insight from our end and happy to be here.

Cancer Diagnosis

Denise St. Pierre:

Well, thank you. Thank you for joining us. And I find the best way to start today is to talk about how Dr. Juneja and I know each other. Dr. Juneja and I were introduced in September of 2019 when he diagnosed me with AML, acute myeloid leukemia.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

And for everyone that doesn’t know you, I mean you hear this very gentle kind voice, but she’s one very tough lady, you would have never known. When I walked in, I told her, I was like, “I’m in the wrong room.” This is not the patient that I saw on the chart based on the numbers I saw and everything and how good you looked and I’m just beyond humbled and inspired by you. So, I think you use the term serendipity again, there’s a lot for us here and here we are. We wouldn’t have known that about two years ago.

The Importance of Educating the Patient on their Chronic Condition

Denise St. Pierre:

No, we would not have. And I remember when you walked in the room and then you told me that I did have some form of leukemia. I knew about ALL leukemia, but I definitely did not know there were different varieties. So, immediately, my mind immediately started saying, “Oh, well, what other kinds of leukemia are there? And if I was to pick one, which one would be the best one for me?” And so you started the education journey for me right at that time because you started going into, not deep into it, but just really high level about the different leukemias.

And I had bone marrow and then the results came through about what diagnosis I had, which was the AML. And I couldn’t remember because it was a couple of days later and I was asking you, so was that the one that we wanted? And you said, “Unfortunately it wasn’t, but if you were going to get it, then the mutations, let’s hope for the best mutations.” And then again, wow, a lot that I realized I didn’t know about what I had and I was just relying on you to give me that information. So when it comes to education and educating the patient, how important is it to educate the patient on chronic condition management? And then also, how would you say that it can improve the outcomes for the patient and help them manage their condition?

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

When you share it, you kind of just gives me goosebumps. I’m taken right back there and I hate to use the word irony, but all the things that I was like, “Well, maybe hopefully this,” we did follow the not favorable side at first, of course, it’s chronic leukemia, and yours is acute. And then we wanted M3, but… Again, I get goosebumps when I hear you share that because I think that’s the way we’re made as humans. We’re goal-oriented, I mean, especially in this country where our forefathers and everything has really displayed just hard work and again, task orientation and goal orientation. And it’s much more, I guess, fulfilling, but also it’s just more captivating, but compelling to want to take ownership of something when you know what’s ahead, what you’re hoping for, and how to get that done.

And I think it adds value to something rather than just a statement. When you say like, “Oh, you have X, Y, and Z, you have hypertension, diabetes, you have arthritis even,” that’s just a diagnosis, but really the term, it’s a series of letters. So, what does that mean to you qualitatively? And just as you said, even if the thing didn’t fall on the favorable side, at least you feel like you have an understanding and you know what the next step is.

So when I was in training, I remember sometimes when I was an intern, sometimes some residents, and this is everywhere not where I was at, but somebody said, “Well, I told them it’d be bad for their liver, but they’re still doing it. Or I told them it would make their sugars high, but they’re still doing it.” And I don’t know, I just feel like that’s very unfair, short-sighted because unless you’ve given them the course on what high sugars do to your body, or you gave them the course on what the liver’s function is like, what does that still mean? Liver is, again, a series of letters.

So personally, when I did internal medicine primary care, I saw that was a big thing. And what humbled me was sometimes how derailed some patients were about like, “I have diabetes.” And I feel maybe ignorant, but I didn’t realize it was something that was so emotionally hard on somebody because it took them a couple of weeks to see me, they were left out of the ED with that diagnosis, and apparently, they were really troubled about it. And we spent an hour and I was talking about like, “Look, diabetes is not like an infection that’s just stuck and it is what it is. Here are all the different things we can do to “make it better.” And there’s such a big spectrum of diabetes. We can actually make you not diabetic by current standards if you weren’t already diagnosed, but we can get your A1C to a level that is a non-diabetic level.” “Really? I can be not diabetic?” And this and that.

So, some of its semantics, but I saw how much it changed that patient to understand that there was still so much more autonomy and control of that process and it’s not this binary thing like, you are or you aren’t, and you’re kind of screwed or you’re not. It’s not that. And the ownership that they took was just incredible and that was very eye-opening to me. And that’s where I think that it plays a big part. So even with cancer, right? Cancer is kind of binary. If it’s a stage four cancer, [inaudible] unfortunately, but even that has its own then box of things on how you maximize the quality of life and how you regard it and when you know what’s ahead of you what to do to really maximize your quality.

We all have, unfortunately, a finite date and we don’t know what it is. So, some of us are knowledgeable about conditions and other things that are in our lives, and some of them are not, but what is your quality of life day-to-day? And I think part of that is just knowing what you have, what you can do about it, what to expect regarding those things.

Taking Ownership of Chronic Condition Management

Denise St. Pierre:

I’m sitting here hearing all of this and I’m thinking, “Wow, I was so lucky to have you, first of all, as my doctor. And second of all, we had just met.” And then you’re having to tell me that I have this chronic condition and it probably wasn’t pretty, and me with my mind, I’m like, “Okay, what is it? What are we going to do to fix it? What’s our next step?” So I’m thinking about all of those things, but on the same hand, you not wanting to overwhelm me right off the bat with all the details, but you did an awesome job with giving me enough information so my brain could compartmentalize what I had just been told.

And then realizing too, it’s not just you telling me, it’s me having to relay that back to family and friends. And so that was a big eye-opener for me too. So you were always good about just telling me enough for me to understand it, and eventually, I stopped asking questions at that point, and then we worked the next day and keep going forward. So I feel like, for me and my experience, education was what helped me continue walking through the journey that I’m walking through right now.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

That’s what you hope that people do. When you take ownership of it, that’s where you are in charge. It doesn’t own you; you own it kind of thing. You’re looking at it and you knew you owned it and you knew everything you needed to do to address it. You took ownership of it.

Denise St. Pierre:

I did. And do you find that patients, just sit back because they’re trying to digest what you told them, but also they don’t know what to ask, what kind of questions to ask you first of all? Or they’re just dying to get out of there so they could go to the web and start looking it up? And I remember one of the things that you said, “Don’t look it up.” And I feel like that I had enough information that you gave me to not look it up because you really gave me some really good information. So I didn’t look it up, and eventually, I did, but not right off the bat.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

Yeah, eventually I want you to. When you know what to navigate and know what you’re looking for and not looking for, that’s where you want to, again, empower yourself even more and really educate yourself. But you have to know, and especially with cancer, you have to know which directions to go in that are even applicable, because I mean every day, three of my patients today, same thing, they were asking questions that I know that they read and I respect that. I love that somebody’s seeking out to learn about their malignancy or about whatever their condition is, but they were also not at all applicable to this situation, I felt bad that they had to do that or fear that.

And ultimately, the really unfortunate thing, our healthcare system is far from perfect. And really, every patient deserves a full-hour talk on just what their high blood pressure means or what their diabetes means. Those terms still even make my skin crawl because I even, from the non-doctor side, know what just the association means. Some people think, oh, it just means bad diet, or it means you need to eat better, or you need to exercise more, your fault kind of thing, which is just so not right. But it has this kind of stigma to it. I have high blood pressure. I’ve had high blood pressure, gosh, since my late, actually early 20s despite being a state athlete, triathlete. So all of that is education. Some of it I’ve seen is guilt on some patients, all that to say, patients deserve so much more as far as to be able to truly appreciate and understand what a diagnosis entails and how to do it.

And when you do, I really do think exactly as you’re saying, you just are like, “Okay, moving forward. I can detail this even a bit farther and see what I need to do.” I know high blood pressure is bad and I know why, right? Those high pressures, you’re all the way downstream, your tiny little arteries and your kidneys are getting extra pressure. And then they start to burst a little bit and then you get into kidney disease and then eventually dialysis. And then all that high pressure causes trauma to the inside of the arteries. And then all of a sudden, plaque builds and then you can have a stroke. So I know those things and yet, I could exercise more and still control it even a little better.

So if that’s me, then I feel like patients really deserve a lot of patience and a lot of encouragement, because even understanding the long-term effects of all that, I’m not perfect. And that’s where, again, education, education, education, and then you will it. You’re more excited. When I tell patients, “You’re so dehydrated and fatigued, so fatigued because you’re dehydrated.” And they’re like, “I drink lots of water.” And I said, “But your sugars are always over 200.” And you have to know that when your sugars are over 200, your kidneys have maxed out on how much sugar they can bring back in with water.

So instead, the sugar is now coming out when you urinate and that’s bringing a ton of water volume with it. So it doesn’t matter how much you hydrate. If it’s over 200 persistently, you’re going to get dehydrated because it’s literally like sand that pulls in water. It’s taking the water out of your blood system. And then, sure enough, that encourages some people to regulate their sugars tighter and then just better and sure enough, they have less fatigue and more energy during the day, but you got to have the time to be able to tell a patient that. So…

Denise St. Pierre:

Definitely. And the one thing that you did say to look up was the chemotherapy, the treatment, the medication that I would be coming in contact with my disease. So, I did look that stuff up, it did help. You said, “Just get familiar with the side effects so when these start happening, you can bring it to my attention,” when I come in to see you and everything like that. So it was very valuable information.

The Value of Preventive Care in Chronic Condition Management

Denise St. Pierre:

And you just brought a good point up was, all the chronic diseases that you’ve talked about with the blood sugar and the high blood pressure, it makes me think about how valuable preventative care is. So, we hear all the time about how we should see our PCP regularly for age-appropriate screenings and tests, but it’s not something to take lightly. So, talk to me a little bit about why it’s important, especially for those people who might be at risk for a chronic condition.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

Yeah. So I mean technically, all of us are at risk of a chronic condition. If we don’t do certain things, we all will have ailments in the future. By ailments, I mean things that are products of long-term illness of some sorts, so strokes, heart attacks, cancer to a degree, they can all be consequences of not having full preventative care with these chronic illnesses of diabetes and hypertension and stress, depression is an illness and to not treat that increases your cortisol stress levels. So all of these things can precipitate into trouble down the line, let alone also your quality of life is impacted the whole time.

But bringing all that together is, again, one of the things to help make a change sooner. But to answer your question, the way I think of preventative care, I don’t think of it this way, but one way that people find it more relatable is the same way as when people say, “You need to have a Roth IRA and you need to have your pre-tax investments and you need to have some something in the background that’s working.” And you know that and you’re like, “Yeah,” but then you also know that means whatever you’re doing, you’re not going to see the fruits of right now, other than maybe the tax break, but say it was a post-tax thing, you know all these like things that you should be doing, putting in some bonds and stuff, but the reward isn’t right there.

But at the same time, so maybe I’m doing a little bit, and I know I should do more, but I know at the same time, the reward will be there in the future, but it’s just hard to do and I’m sure somebody is listening to this and be like, “Oh gosh, I really do need to put something away in a long-term investment thing.” But the same thing goes for preventative care. I mean, you’re not going to get the reward, you’re not doing it for tomorrow or next week or so that you could go to Nordstrom’s or whatever. What you’re doing is you’re getting the long-term reward. So you’re not having trouble at 65 playing sports or going to the fair with your kids or grandkids or whatever. You’re not having scary instances where you’re having to rehab from a stroke and you’re living a quality of life that will be significantly different than what it could have been if you took those measures earlier.

And again, I’m like, “I should do these compounded interest things a little seriously,” but it’s the same concept and we know it. And I think the biggest step is just knowing and understanding that, I think having it in the back of your head or your mind is also very healthy because if it nags at you enough, eventually you do, and maybe this is the breaking point for both of those things for you, me, and whoever else is listening. But that’s what preventative care is. You’re preventing bigger issues down the line. So as we all know, age catches up on you. All of us, I’m sure, could say like, “Yeah, it’s hard to say that I’m X number of years old, it’s gone fast.” The same thing applies 10 years from now and 15 years from now. Well, what can you do to protect that?

So in those terms, that’s when again for a different podcast, but about the health and all that, like the running and what does cardiovascular fitness mean? Why are you running? It’s not to lose weight nearly as much as it is for all these other reasons about heart health and all. And then you have preventative screening, which I’m biased, but as a cancer doctor, that’s huge. You can cure cancer all the time if you catch it early enough and just take out the entire colony of cells that are cancer, take it all out and then make sure all the cells around it are the normal cells so that it was just sandwiched and encapsulated in good tissue and that cancer never spread.

That’s it, and then you’re cancer-free instead of it taking time and then jumping on a blood vessel and going somewhere else. Well, how do you do that? You get your mammograms, you get your colonoscopies, you catch that thing real early. You very liberally cut all around it so you make sure you have nothing, but good cells and you have spared yourself a potentially stage four debilitating terminal disease. So, that’s just something that needs to be pushed across the board. It’s Medicare-approved, it’s approved across the board. Any insurance company has to pay for the screening guidelines, particularly as it comes to mammograms, to colonoscopies, and a lot of people don’t know this one, but if you smoke and you’ve smoked for 25 pack-years, which basically means like a pack a day for 25 years or you multiply them together, and they just recently changed the guidelines, but when you meet that requirement, then you have to be at least 50 years old, you get covered a lung CT scan, low dose CT scan so you’re not getting as much radiation to look for lung cancer.

The reason lung cancer is so, so, so deadly unfortunately is it’s always caught too late, too late to be able to cut it out with all that good lung around it. So that’s also one that people forget about. And then, of course, prostate and your pap smears, all of these conceptually are to find something so small that you can take it out with a lot of good tissue before it went anywhere else. But this doesn’t relate to blood cancer. That just happens, and there’s no real, unfortunately. So glad we can laugh about that right now. And I don’t mean to make light of it either, with anyone listening, it’s a hard thing, but the CVCs, like blood counts, I do see a lot of patients I diagnose other blood cancers early, way earlier because they had proactive primary care that just noticed a little discrepancy on the blood count. So those are all preventative measures, both for cancer and your long-term health.

Importance of Dental Check-Ups in Chronic Condition Management

Denise St. Pierre:

Some of the people out there that, if they would just go do this early, I know everybody likes to, they’re working and then just taking that time off to go do it, but when it all comes down to it, being preventative, it could just be like you said something very minute that the PCP, primary care physician, picked up on. And then instead of waiting until they’re very symptomatic and then going in, because then we know that’s not really good, but one thing I wanted to ask you, and we don’t think about this when we talk about screenings or annual screenings, but one of them was dental, going twice a year for dental. Why is that one important?

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

I mean, one, having good dentition is important, but what dentists are also doing is they’re also screening in your mouth. So they’re looking to see if you have any lesions that may be suspect or abnormal as it relates to, not just cancer, but maybe even precancerous, not crazy about that term, lesions which is important. And then even having gingivitis and inflammation in your gums chronically, there’s a lot of literature that says that may put the whole body in a hyper-drive inflammatory state, which loosely, now this is loose, but there’s some suggestion that maybe that even increases your chance of having chronic-related or inflammatory-related problems to have that chronic inflammation at one side because we do know inflammation causes cancer.

There are several inflammatory disorders, ulcerative colitis, and H. pylori cause inflammation in the stomach and does cause colon cancer and malt lymphoma, respectively. So that is another one that we forget about.

Addressing the Whole Person With Chronic Condition Management

Denise St. Pierre:

Here at SentryHealth, we are focused on integrated health care, which includes chronic condition managment. That means addressing not just the physical aspect of somebody’s condition, but also the mental, social, and financial factors. I recently read a study that said one-third of the people with chronic medical conditions have a high risk of depression and other emotional health issues. And in turn, those who have emotional health issues like depression are more likely to develop physical illnesses.

So let’s talk about why it’s imperative to address the whole person when tackling a chronic condition.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

One of the places or things that we’re really behind in, really behind in America and in the Western world, especially here, is the respect for emotional health and the importance of the psychological and emotional aspect of health and integrating them together. They’ve been treated for a long time as separate entities and we’ve found an overwhelming amount of evidence if you needed that. I mean, some of us intuitively realized how connected they are, but a lot of evidence that shows how much they do relate to one another. And a lot of the studies really talk about how you get a GI system feeling, getting butterflies, getting stomach knots, why do those things happen with emotion with the mind? Why evolutionarily or biologically would that be something that’s there?

And that’s what we’re investigating because there is. You get what’s called a visceral reaction in your gut. At the same time, we know for a fact that if you’re super stressed or anything, you start getting constipated and you start having these other issues. So by design, there has to be some reason that that pathway exists. And if that’s what it takes for people to start to recognize that there is definitely a biological, physical, I want to say organic, because I think emotional health is organic too, but if there’s that as a tie in with mental, emotional health, then we have just opened the box, taken off the lid on now exploring and at least willing to admit that they are very intimately related.

And so with depression, it obviously can increase your cortisol levels, your stress levels. We know increased stress levels and cortisol levels increase holding on to fat deposition and obesity. So it’s a slippery slope. We know depression can cause poor sleep, high levels of cortisol, even though you may think you’re sleeping for 12 hours, all of it relates to each other. Sleep, emotion, and physical health is a big, big one, which is why I get really excited about diagnosing sleep apnea. I start asking questions and I find out, “I never feel well-rested.” And I make sure they’re not anemic and stuff because I’m a hematologist, but I nod off, I have trouble concentrating, I’m always fatigued. And then you work them up for sleep apnea, maybe I have a little bit of depression, and boom, it’s sleep apnea.

And then you get the test done and find out they have it and then they get a C-PAP and their lives change. They have more energy. They feel renewed. They feel like were what they were 10 years ago. They’re all very, very intimately related and that also, it’s good and bad. It makes it more challenging in some ways because you have to determine and recognize the causation and how they’re all related. But at the same time, it’s a good thing because if you could just attack one aspect, you could potentially have this cascade or ripple effect to help your chronic problems and everything, like sleep apnea. That helps with depression, it helps the weight gain issues and the energy.

It’s so important to see how they’re all tied. As a whole, I think it’s finally starting to get the respect it deserves to see, “These are all connected, and we need to ask about these on the review of systems.” That’s a thing we use when we’re going head to toe just seeing on a wellness visit how somebody is to clue us into problems. We need to see how they all relate to one another because it’s very obvious subjectively in the literature that fixing one can help the others significantly.

Having the Support from Family and Friends

Denise St. Pierre:

Yeah, definitely. And I can attest to that with what I have and the journey I’ve been walking with the mental status and then making sure that my social circle was there too. And I think that was the suggestion that you had given me as well, was the social circle that I had. And just thinking about my husband being by my side through this whole journey and then my family and my friends, and then also my work family, checking on me and texting me and seeing if I’m okay and do I need anything?

And then also when I was in the hospital for stents, like 33 days, I was even receiving cards, it was from friends of friends that I had touched them in some way that they had taken the time out to send me a card to the hospital and explain that to me. So, realizing that helped my mental status as well. So I know all of that together is really very important to get somebody through this.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

I can tell you, our floor, the cancer floor at Baton Rouge General was very much rooting for you. And when you went away, everyone was just asking, “How is she? They better be treating her right. Can she come back now?” So you created a whole wave in large volumes of love and support.

Denise St. Pierre:

I wanted to mention them too because that staff was just amazing to where I did relapse. I relapsed about five months after I had my last conditioning treatment, and this is not funny, but it was kind of funny that I had such a connection with them that when you had to tell me that I relapsed, and I knew that was very hard on you to the extent that I thought something was wrong with you, and you’re like, “No, I have to tell you that you relapsed.” And I was like, “Oh, I kind of figured with the symptoms.” But when I walked back up on that floor to start my treatment again, some of the nurses were running up to me and saying, “Oh my gosh/ Denise, it’s so nice to see you.” And then they thought about it and they were like, “No, it’s not nice to see you, but it’s nice to see you.” So that’s-

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

Ah, that’s a story. I haven’t heard that before.

Denise St. Pierre:

Yeah. You didn’t hear that? They did. And I was like, “Yeah, me too.” But-

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

Even we forget, even in healthcare, because you really lead with your humanitarian, that human relationship, that authenticity, you always lead with that as humans, no matter how professional you are, how long you’ve been in healthcare, the first thing is, “I love and care about you.” And then you remember the professional role like, “Oh wait, there’s a reason.” But that’s also what makes human nature charming too.

Data Metrics – Why They’re Important for Decision-Making

Denise St. Pierre:

Yeah. So I knew what they meant and it was just so awesome for me and I knew that I also was in good hands. So mentally I knew what I was having to go through again, but mentally I knew that I would be able to do that too. The other thing that I wanted to talk about as an oncologist, I’m sure you regularly read and collect several data metrics to help in your decision making. So we’ve already talked about, in my case, blood cancer, it’s all about the numbers. And even I got to the point every day with the blood work, what was it? So even the nurses would come in and they’d have my little sticky for me because I was all about the numbers too. So why is it important as a doctor that we have this type of data?

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

It’s very important for several reasons. I mean, certainly, with cancer treatment, it sets parameters on what we can do in the way of treatments and the timing of it. But if you also mean what’s the importance of these metrics just in general, there are some things you can obviously just, I guess, not necessarily intuitively, but observe that you’re getting healthier. You can sit on a scale and know that you’re losing weight and you can see your pressure come down, but even those are metrics. Blood pressure is a metric.

And then when you’ve done really well and you’re in a good place as far as your health and your weight and your blood pressure, then you need these other metrics as it relates to glucose and cholesterol levels because that’s the stuff you can’t really know now just by feeling where you’re at. And so those metrics help place a trajectory based on what we’ve studied and what we know and what are considered “high risk or not high risk,” all of those things together in a retrospective collection, that’s why it’s called the practice of medicine. We continue to evolve, every day, every year, every decade. And we take the experiences that we’ve learned, the observations we’ve made, and we apply them to hopefully even further optimize and recognize changes that need to be made and when we note those changes, the things that are high risk, then we’re like, “What are all the interventions that we can do to make you the better outcome?”

So, that is science. And if you like that, if you like causation and theory and application of interventions to make different outcomes come out, that’s science and that’s medicine and that’s health, and that’s why these metrics are very important. And so if you’re part of something where, say it’s a community or say it’s a workplace and you want to altogether have health in a positive direction, as like you said, your work family, then when you do that and collaborate and do those metrics together, if you want, at some point you’d be like, “Oh, look the jumps and gains I’ve made on this.”

So they’re just very important. And I think not just for doctors, but even for patients. I mean, everyone, I wish I could say I’m above it, but I don’t think many of us are above not needing to at least see the fruits of our labor to some degree and feel fulfilled and then thereby be encouraged to continue doing what we’re doing. So, they’re just valuable on both ends across the board.

How Employers Can Help with Chronic Condition Managment

Denise St. Pierre:

You mentioned work family, I wanted to go back and talk about that too, because I did have a really good work-family all the way up to the CEO and down, constantly checking on me wanting to come visit me and stuff. So that was just really meant a lot to me. And also for goals, I mean, having goals. I was going back to work, whatever it took, I was going to go back to work. And a kind of funny story, when I first got diagnosed, I brought my computer, my laptop, remember?

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

I remember very clearly, yeah. You had a whole workstation.

Denise St. Pierre:

I did, I did. And I was determined to do that, but a lot of our listeners are leaders, managers, companies. So, some may have employees who are facing chronic conditions, so how can employers help employees with chronic condition management?

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

One, you could do it as a community so that it’s like, depending on how close everyone is, you can have these metrics or goals where you compare and collaborate and maybe even want to have bigger gains than the person next to you, just because I’ll ingest or because they do better work than you or who knows? Whatever the reason is. So you could do it that way. But at the same time, also what we were touching on earlier is good health really does objectively, science, literature-based, it just leads to better emotional health and then confidence and encouragement.

And there are just so many good things about knowing that you’re healthy or that you’re working towards being healthier. And there’s a lot of concerning things that can affect how you work if deep down you are still in your head, like, “I really need to just get healthier. I eat poorly. I need to start exercising.” And not having someone to help you and encourage you at the workplace where you spend most of your time, makes it a lot easier to tuck it away. You’re exhausted by the time you get home, and when do you start that implementation process?

So, if a workplace could do that and say like, “Hey, while you’re at work, I want to help your overall health and give you that invitation,” rather than making you have to store away or tuck away that thought about getting healthier, that’s really respectable and that’s a really cool thing because it shows how much you care about not just the professional outcome of your employees, but also just their physical and emotional health. And gosh, I think a lot of places need to do that, it’d be great if we did that a little more in my clinic, just to invite the blood pressure stuff-

Denise St. Pierre:

Again, I totally agree. And I feel blessed to be working for this company, just knowing that they believe in what they’re doing because they did it with me. And employees first, so they are living up to that.

Thank you for so much information that you’ve given today and for just taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk about chronic condition management. And this has been a great conversation. I appreciate you sharing how important education, preventative care, and data are to a patient’s journey.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja:

Thank you for letting me talk and everyone listening. Again, I’m just very inspired and admire so much when people do proactive things. I need to do more myself for myself just about your health. It’s a cool thing.

Denise St. Pierre:

All right, well that does it for today’s episode of For Your Benefits. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast and if you want to learn more about SentryHealth and WellOnMyWay, visit our website at www.sentryhealth.com. Thanks for joining us.

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