A New Model for Women’s Health Care

Melissa Dyrdahl One of the first things you notice when you walk into an Ella Health center is the pleasant music. The next is the beautiful décor, not at all like a typical clinic. It doesn’t even smell like one. There’s a soft aromatherapy scent to promote relaxation.

Everything about the center is designed to make women feel welcome and comfortable from a friendly greeting to the soft, heated robes handed to women on their way into a private dressing room where they can lock up their belongings.

We’ve done this because we believe that this is the way health care should be, with an emphasis on giving patients not just what they need but also what they want.

As a patient, I have been fortunate to be treated by some fantastic doctors and nurses, but there were also too many times when I felt like a number or another statistic. This is something I want to see changed.

It is my goal that beyond giving women a good experience when they come to an Ella Health center we are able to have a broader influence on how care is delivered. It’s about finding a better way to give care, one that empowers women to take charge. We’re showing that it can work.

It involves delivering care in the way that makes the most sense for the patient. That’s where we started, by asking what was holding women back from getting what they need. We know breast cancer screening exams can save lives, so why were so many women putting them off?

We asked 700 women the question, and then we addressed the answers. We made it easier with convenient scheduling, on time appointments and quick results. And, we made it better with thoughtful touches like coffee or tea in the waiting room and a relaxing, thoughtfully designed interior to make our centers much more like a spa than a medical facility.

We extended this emphasis on the patient into our physical therapy services with programs specifically developed to help women improve their health throughout their lives with a focus on pregnancy, bone health, mobility and breast cancer treatment among other issues. It’s a proactive approach that shows women ways to improve their quality of life regardless of physical challenges.

The typical image is that a health care provider will tell you what you should do. But this undervalues your contribution to your own health. What if instead those who give you care would spend more time listening to you, encouraging you to ask questions and giving you the information you need so you can make your own decisions? That’s what we do whether you are here for a 3D mammogram or physical therapy.

What we’re hearing from patients is that it does make a difference. We know, because we ask. We do that because in order to improve, the health care system has to pay more attention to the people who are being served.

One comment

  1. Rachel A. Heldt

    It sounds like a pleasant place to go to get an unpleasant exam.

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