After my husband was diagnosed in kidney failure resulting from doctor errors we knew we had to become more engaged in our healthcare. What we didn't know was that by doing so our doctors would subconsciously change right along with us. My husband and I have been using the system I developed following that kidney failure incident for the past six years. We provide a sequenced meaningful story, and have interactive discussions by asking and being able to answer questions leading to joint decisions making. We leave our appointments knowing what, when, where, why and how of the issue being addressed. Doctors even seem to linger a bit and talk to us on a personal level. We have had more timely and accurate diagnoses and have prevented medical errors. When we told our doctors we were moving 3 1/2 years ago they all said things like, "I hate to see you go, I've enjoyed having you as patients."
As we built our new team here in North Carolina, our new doctors were thrilled with the succinct and thorough information we supplied. They said it usually requires several appointments to feel they know their new patients very well. As we continue to use the system, we find our relationships with our current doctors are very much the same as they were in Tennessee. In today's terminology, we and our doctors are engaged in Participatory Medicine.
In my last "Share" I spoke about e-Patients and Participatory Medicine. If you'll recall the current definition of Participatory Medicine is, "patients are actively involvement in their care and doctors are encouraging that involvement." That's a very open definition. It means different things to different people. Many medical people have been in the process of trying to further define it and make it clearly actionable for the past couple of years. They are trying to figure out what patients and doctors need to do differently, because as I said last time, "we need a culture change." The analysis of the medical system and patient cultures and needed changes have become very academic. When that happens it often takes forever to make the desired changes.
Through personal experience and feedback from others I do know that one person can change the entire interaction and that the patient has the power to do it. You, too, can do it by becoming an e-patient who is engaged, educated and empowered in a healthy way. Doctors are so used to 50 - 65% of their patients not following through with their recommendations that when an e-patient is in the exam room it is a breath of fresh air in their day.
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