Christopher Lunsford

Christopher Lunsford: A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare

It’s a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Christopher Lunsford on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. Christopher is from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He joined Rob Oliver during the patient’s perspective interview marathon. Christopher Lunsford gives us some interesting perspective on mental health.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Christopher Lunsford shared a patient’s perspective on healthcare:

  • His healthcare hero is a therapist named Adriana, who made a profound impact on him through genuine compassion, active listening, and providing resources without pressure.
  • Healthcare quality involves acknowledging the individual’s perspective and creating a collaborative relationship between patient and provider.
  • Patients need to have time to ask relevant questions during appointments with medical professionals.

This interview with Christopher Lunsford is #32 in the Guinness world record setting podcast interview marathon. There are 105 more patient interviews to come. Stay tuned!

Here is a transcript of the interview with Christopher Lunsford:

Rob Oliver: Hello, my friend, and welcome to the podcast.

Christopher Lunsford: Hi. How’s it going, Rob?

Rob Oliver: It’s going well. So what is your name?

Christopher Lunsford: My name is Christopher Lunsford.

Rob Oliver: And Christopher, where are you from?

Christopher Lunsford: From Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley.

Rob Oliver: There you go. Okay. You are our second guest from Allentown. So you guys are representing Allentown well and I appreciate that. The trifecta that is up there, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, if I’m not mistaken, the greater ABE area.

Christopher Lunsford: Yes.

Rob Oliver: Wonderful. All right. So, Christopher, help me with this. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background and experience with health care?

Christopher Lunsford: Yeah, I’d be happy to. Most of my experience with care has been revolved around mental health care, behavioral health. So I’m a person who received a mental health diagnosis when I was five years old, and that led me to enter a world of behavioral health services, coordinated care between mental health specialists and medical health professionals. And so a lot of my experience came from having to go and meet with my family doctor or something because of something that was going on with medications that I was taking or chemical imbalances where we’re doing blood work and stuff to kind of keep track of that type of thing or physical health issues that would come up as a result of some of the behavioral health concerns that I was dealing with growing up. So nowadays it’s a little more normalized. I guess I go to see my doctor once a year to just kind of touch base and see how things are going. And if I’m feeling sick or there’s something really wrong, I’ll give them a call and kind of just figure out what we need to do, schedule an appointment or something from there.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. Would you be willing to share what is the difference in your experience between the mental health side of things and the physical health side of things, or is there a difference?

Christopher Lunsford: It’s a good question. I think that there’s a little bit of difference that I’ve noticed in mental health care. I mean, you’re primarily seeking either like psychiatric services or therapeutic services. So speaking with a therapist would be something that’s very different conversationally than with your psychiatrist. Mind you, I believe that they should be fairly similar as they’re both kind of seeking to understand two sides, the same issue a lot of times. So I think if I’m answering that question from a therapy perspective, I feel like I’m much more heard. I feel like the conversation is a little bit more personable and they’re trying to understand me from a psychiatric perspective. I think that a psychiatrist oftentimes was trying to figure out what they need to prescribe me. So questions were asked to help understand what medication they needed to send my way. And sometimes there are fewer questions asked in that encounter, actually, a lot of times as compared to the therapy situation. And then with the medical doctors. In my experience, a lot of times I was being sent there for stuff that was already decided by my psychiatrist or usually my psychiatrist. So the experience would be like, I’d walk in the door and they’d be like, oh, this was sent to me. Here’s what we’re going to do. But if I ever went there because of something that was going on medically with me, my experience was usually one of, like, from the lobby, I’d kind of go in, I’d meet with their nurse practitioner to ask some general questions about what my experience was and what brought me in that day. And then I’d have maybe like five ish minutes with the actual doctor where they’re not asking me a ton of questions. It’s very pressured. I feel like I went in there needing to ask some questions of my own, but I’m really just there for them to kind of ask me a couple of basic questions and then send me on my way because they have other patients to see.

Rob Oliver: Yeah, very interesting. Thanks for being willing to share that. Along your healthcare journey have you met any healthcare heroes?

Christopher Lunsford: Yeah. So this might be a little unconventional because in my mind, as soon as I read this question, healthcare hero for me was like this therapist that I had seen for about five years, and she was fantastic. Her name was Adriana, and probably still is. But whenever I first met with her, it was interesting because I was still pretty young adult, kind of transitioning out of children’s services to adult services. And she was a good intermediary between there. She practiced out of a family based office. So a lot of times her clientele were teens and kids, and I stuck with her into my 20s because there was a lot of good work that would get done out of all those sessions. And I see here on a weekly basis, she to me as a person who has seen countless different therapists, different psychiatrists. I went in and out of inpatient hospitalization programs whenever I was growing up. I’ve seen and met a lot of different mental health professionals, and she was someone who never made me feel bad in any way, shape or form about what I was dealing with, who I was, or how I worked to overcome some of the challenges that I faced or what I was faced with. She had such compassion. Every time I went to the office, she’d be like, So how are things going this week? And I could talk about anything. And whenever I would talk, like, sometimes I could say some of the most wild things that were going on during my week that time. And she was always just looking at me and keep it pretty straight face and, oh, okay. Wow. She would tune into my experience. And depending on how I was feeling or what emotions I was expressing, she would just be like, it sounds like this is having this effect on you, and you’re going through that. It’s really reflective of what I told her. So she always made me feel heard. And she did this really cool thing where, depending on what we were talking about, she would give me something to do whenever I leave. And it was always in a way where it wasn’t like, here’s what I want you to do before you see me next week or something. I was thinking about this when you were talking, and I know this has helped some other folks in the past, and maybe this is something that’s interesting to you, too. And she’d write a little something down, a piece of paper, a resource or an author of a book or something, and she’d hand it to me and she’d be like, if you have time, feel free to check this out. Here’s why I think it would be helpful. If you don’t get around to it, that’s okay, too. No big deal. So there’s never any pressure. Nine times out of ten, I went and checked that thing out, right.

Rob Oliver: It’s the no pressure approach. Because she has the relationship with you and because she’s built the rapport with you, you are much more likely to follow up on her recommendations because you’ve got a connection there. It’s not someone trying to Ram something down your throat. They’re more or less sharing with you, and you follow up from it. What does quality health care mean to you?

Christopher Lunsford: To me, quality healthcare means taking the individual’s experience into account, it means working together as a team. I understand that this is a lot of people’s experience, not just mine, where the dynamics between the patient and the provider is one of kind of like noticing the differences in level of power, where you got this person who’s the expert in their field, and then you’ve got this person who doesn’t know nothing about it. That’s what it feels like whenever you’re in the office. I think that it should be like, here’s a person that’s an expert in their field and what they know, and here’s an opportunity to learn about how what they know is affecting this new person. I think quality healthcare is one that takes into consideration that there is learning to be done on both sides of that encounter, and that a person who’s going in to receive care, they have expertise in their own life and their own experience to offer so that can work better in tandem.

Rob Oliver: It’s so funny because the very first presentation that I developed about quality health care from a patient’s perspective for my keynote speaking business was called Robology 101. And it’s the idea that I have an advanced degree in the study of Rob because I’ve been doing it for almost 50 years now and you’ve got an advanced degree in medicine. So let’s sit down and bring our mutual expertise together to find a solution that works for both of us in respecting each other’s experience and knowledge. I love the concept of exactly what you’re talking about. We’ve got two minutes left. I’ve got two questions for you. So we are on track, my friend. What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?

Christopher Lunsford: I wish my medical providers understood that I needed time to ask the right questions whenever I went to visit them. Getting there was a stressful experience for me, Something I probably thought about for the weeks leading up to it. And when I get there, I want to feel like I have the space to ask what I need to ask before I leave.

Rob Oliver: Okay. Interesting. And there’s two pieces to that. One is taking time. The other is it’s not about the questions that they ask you. It’s about the opportunity for you to ask them. What a shift in paradigm where they’re the ones that are supposed to be asking. In the old concept, they’re the ones that are asking the questions to get to the bottom of things and now the patient. I talked about this before, patients have the access to knowledge because Google, you can Google anything. And then the other piece is that now they’re saying to the provider, you need to answer questions for me, but very unique and different change than what we’re used to. So wonderful. Last question for you. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?

Christopher Lunsford: One thing that medical professionals can do today, I think, is to I had to think about this question earlier too, but I think it goes into these other questions that we answered, which is to treat their patient like one human being. Not to say that they all don’t, But I’m just saying that you want to create that experience and that feeling right away that a human being is walking in there and they’re asking questions to get some help and two, to give them the time and the space that they need to feel comfortable and satisfied with their visit. If you can have food industry standards Where the customer should be satisfied before they leave, we can have that kind of standard for medical professionals as well.

Rob Oliver: Excellent. Listen, Christopher, I think that is well stated and very practical, I would tell you. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for your support.

Christopher Lunsford: Thank you for having me.

Rob Oliver: Oh, you bet. I just want to tell you I appreciate you and respect your perspective on health care.

Christopher Lunsford: Appreciate you and yours as well. Rob, thank you so much. Good luck on your record. This is awesome.

Rob Oliver: Thank you so much.

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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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