I firmly believe in the patient's right to be involved in ALL healthcare decisions for him or herself. I've written about this several times in my shareposts here at HealthCentral, most recently in relation to prescription decisions.
For me, an educated healthcare professional, participation in medical decision-making comes pretty natural. After all, I know and understand a lot. What I don't know, I know how and where to look up to find out. My aunt is a voracious researcher and loves the Web, so she's good at gathering information and raising questions too. But I'm not sure we're anywhere near the norm.
I think most people innately trust their doctors to know what's right and to make the right decisions for them. And, to my thinking, that's dangerous. Why? Well, mainly because doctors today are so rushed and so beset upon by managed care, that you simply can't always rely on them to know you well enough or to make the best decisions for you. Today's physician is not your parent's warm, involved family doctor who cared for several generations and seemed almost a member of the family himself.
If you want the best care today, then you MUST be involved in it, from the very start. To me, that's the essence of the empowered patient and I embrace it, 100%. So, how do you learn about becoming empowered?
Actually being an "empowered patient" is becoming quite the catchprase. And there are dedicated resources on the Web to help you, which is great. CNN offers one such feature, a subsection on their news site, anchored by reporter, Elizabeth Cohen, who is their Medical News Correspondent.
At CNN's Empowered Patient, you can find articles on diverse healthcare topics, such as:
- 5 Ways to Help Your Doctor Help You
- What to Expect From Your Doctor
- 5 Alternative Medicine Treatments That Work
That's just a small sample. I haven't looked at every article, but the ones I did view seemed well-written enough, especially the top 5 type like the ones listed above. Short, sweet, and filled with practical tips. There are definitely some helpful articles there.
If you really want a course in becoming empowered, though, I'd turn to Trisha Torrey, guide at the Patient Empowerment site. Trisha is a proactive patient herself who lived through a horrendous healthcare experience and came out stronger on the other side.
At Trisha's site, you'll find an explanation of what an empowered patient is, the Savvy Patient Toolkit, and tips on every aspect of navigating the healthcare system. I highly recommend you take a look.
Your future health may depend on your efforts to become empowered. So, get started today!