BUSINESS: Dr. Diana Kennedy
Dr. Diana Kennedy, who specializes in diabetes, thyroid and other metabolic disorders, is on a mission to educate patients beyond her own private practice at Metabolic Disease Associates, located within the Mercy Health Center complex on the north side of Oklahoma City.
Kennedy is a graduate of OU Medical School and in 1985 she became board certified as an internist. She completed a two-year endocrine and metabolism fellowship and started her own practice in July 1986.
Kennedy says she is concerned with the health care system today because it is fragmented in the way it deals with preventative care and care in general of chronic diseases. Patients may see five or more specialists, but they don’t have one physician overseeing the whole picture. Therefore, some patients wind up falling through the cracks. She clarifies her understanding of a patient’s struggle: “It is difficult controlling chronic disease if you are not emotionally or physically feeling well enough to deal with it.”
On the other hand, she feels doctors need to encourage patient involvement and develop a health care plan. “I think the patient has to actually be a member of the team and not just simply being directed what to do. You can’t expect good medical results without the patient’s full understanding of their medical problems,” Kennedy explains. “They’ve got to understand their treatment plan and they have to understand why it is important and what the risks are, but also what the benefits are.”
Another concern Kennedy shares is the amount of misinformation readily available, especially on the Internet. “People need to get reliable facts from reliable sources. People may blame a medication for an amputation or a heart attack when it is really the fact that the person waited too long getting treatment that caused the problem, not the medications,” she explains.
The message Kennedy wants to spread is that people need to ask questions and research their disease, read valid websites instead of opinions
expressed in chat rooms. She suggests seeking out sites that give scientific data such as the American Diabetes Association, the Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, National Institute of Health and WebMD.
For the past 10 years, Kennedy has sponsored first-year OU Medical Center students on rotations. They visit in the spring and spend one day a week for six weeks learning how to talk to patients and shadow doctors. She has participated in public outreach programs such as those directed by the American Diabetes Association, where she served as a board member. She also practices once a month at the St. Charles Diabetes Clinic.
But Kennedy doesn’t work alone. She also credits her staff for her successful outreach. “They make it all work, because we work together as a team.”