INTERVIEW WITH DR. PRACHA EAMRANOND
What guided your decision to go into medicine and your chosen field?
When I was young, medicine was not the natural choice for me. No one in my family had ever finished college, let alone graduate school. I have deep gratitude for my parents who had an unparalleled work ethic for helping those in need and instilled in me an unconditional respect for those around me. Interestingly enough, my parents told me not to become a doctor. So, of course, I decided to go to medical school. My parents grew up very poor on the streets of Thailand and they were concerned I would work too hard as a physician. They were right but I love what I do!
Like many other budding medical students, my desire to help the underserved was a driving factor. I saw lepers lining the streets in Bangkok who didn’t receive adequate nutrition and medication for their treatable illnesses, leading to permanent disfigurement and disability. For several years, in addition to being a primary care and hospitalist doctor, my focus was on population health: improving patient experience and health outcomes while reducing costs. I also strongly believe that all of us can improve the quality of our own health by taking better care of ourselves and learning about the many factors that impact wellness. That is one reason among many why I am so excited about the opportunity to work with Doctorpedia.
“My career is dedicated to helping those in need. Doctorpedia offers the unique opportunity to share vital health information with patients, clinicians, and organizations.”
What can a patient expect when they have you as a doctor?
Engagement. I navigate the health and sickness of my patients with them, fostering engagement, accelerating mutual understanding, and improving their health outcomes. This is undoubtedly challenging in today’s environment which can predispose physicians to focus on productivity rather than build trusting relationships.
Dr. Pracha on the expert panel at the Patient Engagement and Experience Summit
Patients learn quickly that I care for each individual as a person, managing complex illnesses as well as dealing with very personal factors that impact both their mental and physical health. Patients have my direct contact information with a communication plan that is tailored to them. Patients know that I may not have the answer for all of their challenges, but together we will find the best path forward.
What’s your favorite activity outside of work?
Tango. My wife and I met dancing salsa many moons ago and shortly thereafter devoted ourselves to tango. We became so enthralled with the connection and embrace of this dance that we moved to Argentina to study with world masters. One of our tango students made a short movie about our philosophy of life that is inspired by the tango dance – please contact Doctorpedia for access to the film.
You recently joined the Doctorpedia team as Chief Medical Officer! What do you hope to accomplish in that capacity?
My career is dedicated to helping those in need. Doctorpedia offers the unique opportunity to share vital health information with patients, clinicians, and organizations. Through technology, networking, innovation and an amazingly creative team, we can scale untapped medical knowledge in ways we could not do until recently. In this challenging yet rewarding time we can change the way we promote wellness and health amongst ourselves, our families, and the communities we influence. I have had a rich set of life-altering experiences as chief medical officer in different organizations. By pooling our collective expertise and resources, I have no doubt that Doctorpedia will give us this rare chance to dramatically impact the world we live in.
“I also strongly believe that all of us can improve the quality of our own health by taking better care of ourselves and learning about the many factors that impact health. That is one reason among many why I am so excited about the opportunity to work with Doctorpedia.”
What do you think about the health and wellness information and resources available online?
There are many evidence-based modalities to improve health and wellness. Meditation, tai chi, dancing, biking, and music are among my personal favorites. While there are a plethora of resources online, the operationalization of wellness through online services is greatly needed. At Doctorpedia we want to democratize wellness through online utilization and improve health outcomes.
What is it like teaching at Harvard and being surrounded by so many accomplished and bright people?
Growing up and working with impoverished communities around the world has made me the person I am. I traveled through seven continents (yes, Antarctica too!) and saw firsthand that the wealth and resources to feed, educate, and provide health care for the world exists in excess but are far from evenly distributed. I was blessed with the opportunity to learn from amazing teachers at many institutions about the humanities and sciences. Together these academic and real world experiences fundamentally changed how I approach healthcare to drive clinical outcomes. Teaching medical students reminds me that at the core of medicine is the trusting relationship between a doctor and a patient. Educating others makes me a better doctor, colleague, and mentor. Harvard indeed has an abundance of accomplished and bright people, but intellectual capital exists everywhere. My sincerest hope is that Doctorpedia can tap into a global network of enormous health information and some of the most talented people in order to improve the world’s health.