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Jonathan Friedman: A Service Provider’s Perspective on Healthcare

It’s a service provider’s perspective on healthcare from Jonathan Friedman on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. Jonathan is from Toronto Canada. He is a Millennial (Generation Y.) His specialty is child and youth counseling as well as coaching. He is the president of “The Journal That Talks Back™.”

Here are 3 things that stood out as Jonathan Friedman gave us a service provider’s perspective on healthcare:

· Sometimes the mental health of people with developmental disabilities can be missed because of the focus on their diagnosis. There needs to be a holistic view.
· Great healthcare is affordable, accessible, and holistic. (A prime example is that psychotherapy is typically not covered or only a few sessions are covered by insurance.)
· Transportation is a huge obstacle for people with disabilities when it comes to accessing the healthcare system.

You can learn more about Jonathan Friedman and The Journal That Talks Back™ through the links below:


Here is the transcript of Jonathan Friedman: A Service Provider’s Perspective on Healthcare:

Rob Oliver: Thank you and welcome. I appreciate you being here. Today’s perspective comes from Jonathan Friedman. He is a millennial from up in Ontario, Canada, and he is a service provider. He does counseling and coaching for youth. Jonathan, welcome to the podcast, man.

Jonathan Friedman: Super excited to be here, Rob. Thanks for having me. I was actually just in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago.

Rob Oliver: Fantastic. Pittsburgh is an amazing city, as is Toronto, where you’re from. So very different size cities, but it’s all good. So, let’s start here. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in healthcare, please.

Jonathan Friedman: Yeah, sure. So, as you mentioned, I’m Jonathan Friedman. I’m the president and co founder of the journal that talks back. We offer accessible coaching for young professionals who are struggling with their mental health, their careers, really all the fun stuff. I started out in a business school, ended up transferring to child and youth work. I spent most of my career so far working with young adults who have a primary diagnosis of autism. For a while, being in my twenty s, I wanted to try something new. Ended up in marketing. And then when Covet hit, me and my stepmom looked at each other and said, we’ve got to do something. So she’s been an executive coach for years, and I was a child and youth worker for years. So we wanted to sort of blend the two together and we’ve created something that’s similar to the it’s basically the coaching version of text therapy. So we coach people through journals in an unlimited and accessible format.

Rob Oliver: Okay. It’s really interesting when you talk about mental health because I had a guest on who serves members of the LGBTQ Plus community, and in surveying their members, the primary medical condition that they found being most difficult is mental health. And so I think what you’re talking about, for me, as a person with a physical disability, I can understand the role that mental health plays. But it’s interesting when I would imagine you’re looking at people with autism who are on the spectrum, and I would think that the mental health side of things sometimes is neglected when you come to developmental disabilities. What are your thoughts on that?

Jonathan Friedman: Sure I totally agree. Even before we started the Journal That Talks Back in this service, we’re focused on anybody who fits into that young professional category. But before we started it, we surveyed a bunch of medical professionals. And a close friend of mine who I went to elementary school, he became a psychiatrist. When I spoke to him about this idea, he said that one of the key issues in health care is that doctors only have time to look at a person, at their diagnosis, at their symptoms, and what we can do to treat it. But there’s not often a lot of time to talk about things like relationships and career and, you know, starting a business or how to build really great friendships and all of this stuff. So that, for me, really hit me and really stuck with me. And I see that as a key theme over my life. When I was a youth worker, people just say, oh, yeah, that kid has autism. You can expect some behaviors. You can expect some of this stuff. Sure, that’s a big part of it. But what about making friends? What about forming relationships? What about how to do a job interview? All of these different pieces are really important, and I’m sure we’re on the same page. It’s all about looking at a person as a holistic being all the things that they touch and all the things that touch them to really build a good, even treatment plan, but a good system for them.

Rob Oliver: Okay. And what you’re talking about there is the fact that there’s more to life than just your diagnoses or just your limitations. Whatever the situation is, there’s more to it than that. So, yeah, you’ve already kind of started into this a little bit, I think. But what does quality health care mean to you?

Jonathan Friedman: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think great healthcare is affordable, it’s accessible, and it’s holistic. I think it falls into those three categories. I mean, in Canada, we’re very fortunate that we have fairly universal healthcare. But even then, a lot of things aren’t covered. Like, things around diabetes aren’t covered, and psychotherapy is not often covered. A company might offer a benefits package that allows for $500 or really two sessions of therapy, and it’s not enough. And we know, especially in the millennial and gen z population, over 58% of them are burnt out. Over a third of them are struggling with anxiety or depression, and those are before covered numbers. And we know with isolation, these things are only on the rise. So I think looking at affordability and being able to access all sorts of different care for a reasonable price is really important. And in terms of accessibility, is to do so in a way that makes sense. There’s this big boom right now with telehealth and being able to communicate via text therapy or text medicine. And for a lot of people who struggle with getting outside or might not be able to take a subway, even in Toronto, here we have a lot of subway stations that are not built excessively for wheelchairs. So getting to a specific subway station to work with a specific therapist might be very difficult. Right. So just considering all of those pieces, I think we’re way off. But I think those are the keys to building good quality healthcare, considering all those pieces.

Rob Oliver: Okay, I’ve got a smile on my face because you hit a nerve with me when you talk about accessible subway stations. My family I just turned 50, and for my birthday, we went up to New York City.

Jonathan Friedman: Happy birthday.

Rob Oliver: Thank you very much. And in our experience as a family, we rode the subway everywhere. It was much easier than trying to park and all of those things, and we were trying to get back to our hotel, and my daughter got us to a subway station that she thought was accessible, but it wasn’t. And so we ended up, let me just say, I wandered around New York City for the better part of an hour looking for the accessible subway station to be able to get me back to where I came from. It was mentally scarring, so I feel that pain, but it’s a consideration that you don’t often think of. So it’s about making sure that people have access. Can you talk just a little bit when you talk about accessibility with the universal healthcare system that Canada has, what we hear in the US about it is that most things are covered, but sometimes you have to wait. And there’s a time accessibility factor with that. Can you talk about that at all?

Jonathan Friedman: Sure. Yeah. So actually, just a month ago, I thought I was going to be a superhero and list something by myself, and I really terribly sprained my arm. So I called my parents. They were able to take me to a local hospital to get checked out. It was 11:00 p.m. On a Sunday night. And to just get an X ray to make sure it was a sprain and not dislocation or it was going to be two hour wait. And it’s a hospital. We’re just coming out of covet. People are coughing there. People are sneezing. They’re like, oh, no, is it worth waiting? So we decided, in fact, to actually skip the X ray, to just see the doctor who said, we might not know anything without an X ray, but if you’re able to do this, it’s likely just a spray. So we went on our way with that. So even though that was a free experience, had I gotten the X ray and gotten the 100% care of what I would have needed, that would have been probably about 3 hours. And that’s just a sprained arm. If you look at other things, like, my brother is a cancer survivor, and he was very fortunate to get great care at a great hospital, at the kids hospital. But had he been one year older and been in the adult population, wait times are very long. Sure. So there’s those considerations up here as well. So we’re fortunate, but I hope one day that those things sort of even themselves out.

Rob Oliver: Got it. I did a patient interview marathon where I talked to people from around the world. And what I have come to understand is that no single system has it, all right? There are issues no matter what the system is, whether it’s universal, whether it’s private pay, or even in Australia, where it’s kind of a hybrid model of universal and private pay. Can you give me an example of quality health care?

Jonathan Friedman: Yeah. So actually, I have a friend of mine, back before COVID, I was actually helping her with her social media, but she started a chiropractic clinic here in Toronto. Her name is Jenna, and she’s a chiropractor and an registered massage therapist. But she actually has a bunch of people that she has a referral network with. And her goal, and she’s not there yet, is to build this hub of different professionals who deal with different things. That way they can treat one patient at one hub. That mission of being able to understand that as a chiropractor. Your job is to do from here to here. And then if there’s another piece of that patient. Let’s say inflammation. Leads to digestive issues. And then you’re able to have somebody else in the same clinic or in the same network who can treat that patient for those digestive issues or maybe have a therapist to talk about with that patient. About the chronic pain and about managing that in their life. To me, just that mission and that vision of having that hub is just the coolest thing. Because I’ll give you an example. My girlfriend. She has crohn’s. It’s minor Crohn’s, but it still affects a lot of different things in her life. And she’s a chef, and she struggles with chronic pain. So you can imagine with all the chopping, that’s a thing. So every single time she goes to one doctor, she has to be on a wait list for like, two months to go see the next doctor to deal with the other problem. So what I think my friend Jenna is doing really well is building this idea, and I’m sure it’s going to take some time, but that idea of a hub where one place where a patient can access all the things that they need, it’s certainly a cool idea.

Rob Oliver: Yeah, I love it. Because what you have with your girlfriend’s situation, the system is the center of the hub, right? You go through the system and then you’re redirected back out, and then you go through the system and you’re redirected to the next one. As opposed to what Jen is working on is the patient is the center of the hub, and everything kind of centers around them and is accessible to them. So very cool. What do you wish people understood about your role in healthcare?

Jonathan Friedman: Yeah, absolutely. So I think it leads back to what I was talking about before with my friend John, who said, in medicine, we often have to look at a person for their symptoms and their diagnosis, work on that, and then see you later. We’ll see you at the next appointment. I’m not saying all doctors are like this, but especially in Canada where there is those time constraints, it definitely happens on quite a regular basis. And systems like coaching or when I was a youth counselor are really interesting because there can be a lot of us, you don’t have to be in school for 15 years to become a coach or counselor. And not to say that those are the best systems to treat all the things, but imagine if now there are like 1000 coaches and counselors who can help deal with all of these relationship issues, career issues, all the things that are outside of a person’s diagnosis. There should never be a coach that comes to the table as a doctor and says, okay, here’s how we treat ADHD or here’s how we treat anxiety disorders. Absolutely not. But we can talk about dating. When you struggle with social anxiety, that’s a great topic that we can cover and that affects so many people. So coaching is growing as a field, but even with the journal that talks back with our service, quite often I’ll get on an intake call and people are like, well, what’s the difference between coaching and therapy? Why should I come to a coach? And I give them that answer. But I think that’s the goal is what I’m looking to see is that coaching and access to coaching just becomes a simpler, easier thing for people to use. O

Rob Oliver: kay. And what I’m hearing you say is to go back to that holistic concept you’re dealing with people and their mental health, their feelings, their emotions, all of those items will have an impact on their physical health. And if you can address some of those issues, it’s going to make a difference in their life from a full life holistic perspective, which gets back to what we’re talking about earlier. Okay. What excites you about the future of healthcare?

Jonathan Friedman: me Yeah, I think there’s a main trend that I’m seeing and really sweet telehealth. It’s not a new thing, but it’s definitely a hugely growing thing, especially since COVID. And it’s that there are lots of people who are using technology as a bridge between patients or clients and the service that they need without all of those extra barriers. Like why should you need a three hour wait time to see an urgent care specialist? Why should you need to wait three or four weeks or five weeks for an appointment with a therapist? It doesn’t necessarily make sense. And by using technology as a bridge, you’re able to shorten those times quite significantly. Maybe a patient doesn’t need to go to a hospital. They can have a questionnaire with a doctor who’s going through some ideas and you can avoid all of that completely. So I’m really excited about that trend. And also I’m really excited about more people looking at systems as opposed to a treatment method. Like how can we put the patient or the client back at the center of everything and use all the different tools that we’ve had over the past few hundred years with all the super cool technology to treat them or to care for them as a person. Not just as somebody with a broken arm. So I’m very excited about that.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. And I think that what you bring up about telehealth is very exciting for a couple of different reasons. Number one, you already talked about the issues that people with disabilities have with transportation and people who are in lower socioeconomic status are going to have issues that way. And now you’re making it so it’s accessible. Additionally, what you’re able to do is you’re able to use telehealth almost as a screening to say, do I need to go to the hospital? Do I need to go to the doctor? Do I need to have a test done where you can talk to somebody and before you ever leave the house? You know, possibly I don’t have to leave the house in order to do this, so very cool. Alright, last question for you. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?

Jonathan Friedman: Yeah, that’s a great last question. I think the answer to the question is to just ask more questions to have if you’re sitting there with a patient, don’t just move through the clipboard, just ask questions. Like even something as simple as how are you doing today? Like, building up a relationship with that patient can have such a big impact on their ability to trust you and follow through with care procedures in a medical sense. And then even like, for me as a coach, let’s say we’re coaching somebody for five weeks. We’re spending the first three or four weeks just asking questions, trying to get the whole story before we jump to solutions or jump to coaching. And I think that’s a really important thing that everybody across the board, therapists, medical professionals, coaches, counselors, need to really get into.

Rob Oliver: Okay, so just to flush that out a little bit, are you talking about building rapport or are you talking about making the person feel cared for as though there’s a genuine interest in there? I think it serves both. Which would you say is kind of the important, the more important aspect of that?

Jonathan Friedman Yeah, I think at the end of the day, everything in healthcare, when you boil it down, is about a relationship. It’s about having trust in that professional to be able to take you from this place of pain to this place of not pain. And as a medical professional, you’re a very educated person. You’re somebody who’s been through so much learning and it’s a great place to start practicing building rapport, asking questions so you can build that relationship. The patient trusts you and they follow through with whatever you’re working on. For sure.

Rob Oliver: Cool. Hey, listen, Jonathan, thank you so much for being with me today. I appreciate you being here, I appreciate you sharing, and I appreciate your perspective on healthcare.

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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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