Health & Wellness 2024: Doctors helping patients meet their health goals

The next time you go to the doctor, think about what medical goals you want to work toward, advises Dr. Crystal Hines-Mays, a family physician at Franciscan Health’s Homewood office.

Being able to share your medical history and goals is one way to build a strong doctor-patient relationship, Hines-Mays said.

Crystal Hines-Mays

“When it all boils down, we develop relationships with our physician just as we develop relationships with friends, family and anyone. And that is with transparency,” she said. “That is with coming to the table and revealing what your goals are.

“So, you have to have objectives, and I believe that when you come to the doctor you have to understand that it’s not the doctor just telling you what to do, it’s you telling the doctor what you want. It is a relationship that you gain by disclosing what are your objectives and goals as a patient, and the doctor also says what the objectives and goals are.”


She believes when the doctor and the patient are working toward the same goal of good health, it’s easy for them over time to develop a bond, a friendship.

The patient may not have any immediate goals, but Dr. Hines-Mays urges patients to “go home and think about it. Go home and tell me maybe when you come back, what are your objectives. So, this is a new conversation that doctors are encouraging patients to think about.”

In the past, patients would go to the doctor’s visit and the doctor would give information on what the patient needed to do. It could feel like a one-way approach.

“Now the goal is to say to the patient ‘What are you looking for? Oh, you’re looking to lose weight? Oh, you’re looking to be healthier? Oh, you’re looking to learn better strategies on foods to choose maybe in your ethnicity or in your financial level? And so on and so forth,” Hines-Mays said.

She urges patients to see the doctor’s office as a place where they feel comfortable answering “very pertinent, intimate questions” about their life and health with the physician, with the understanding that what is shared doesn’t leave the examining room “so that should allow them, or encourage them to feel that they can relax and let down with you and just become more transparent and it’s okay to be vulnerable.”

“In this day and age, we need to feel that we have a safe space,” she stressed.

Hines-Mays said family medicine is a specialty, just like cardiology or OB-GYN.

“The beauty of family medicine is you get to work with the entire family. You can work with any age, but some family practitioners decide to work with a certain age group. As a family practitioner I enjoy the job because it gives you that dynamic of spreading yourself across a number of disciplines as well as seeing a number of ages of patients,” she said.

Hines-Mays sees an average 20 or more patients a day. Some are new patients in for their first visit, others need immediate care, such as for a cold or flu. Still others are working to maintain good health by managing diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis or other chronic conditions. She is supported by staff who help patients with prescription refills, lab work scheduling, etc.

Hines-Mays no longer goes into the hospital. Her patients, once admitted, are cared for by doctors in the hospitalist group.

The Franciscan Health Homewood office is at 18636 Dixie Highway. Contact Hines-Mays at 708-679-2380.

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