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Do You Need a GPS for Health Care?

By Anonymous
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

You’ve got a headache. Should you go to your family doctor, your gynecologist, a neurologist, or a brain surgeon? And, depending upon which office you head to, will your insurance cover it? Then, if insurance will cover it, would it be less costly to you if you go to the medical center that’s one exit down the freeway to the right or the one that’s a bit further to the left?

No matter where you go, are there medical records you could get a hold of that you should bring? Or can someone zap them to the new doctor electronically?

There are so many questions and choices in our increasingly complicated health care world. How can you navigate it? It’s tough even for doctors and nurses when they are patients.

Often it’s unnerving. And it leaves many of us less confident that we are getting the right care and at a reasonable price.

True “patient empowerment” that teaches useful skills is not what we learn in school and it is doubtful that it is in anybody’s curriculum. But it should be.

I tried to help by writing “The Web-Savvy Patient,” which acknowledges that many people are using the Web to look for medical information and direction and need guidance on how to use what they learn, including how to discuss it with their doctor.

One feeling I came away with while working on this project is how there are so many people out there online who want to help. You just have to be savvy about it. You need some skepticism and some “filters.”

But if you look critically on reliable websites and some Facebook group pages you will find nuggets of information that can direct you. You’ll find tips and you’ll find inspiration.

There are also some pre-eminent resources like Jane Brody’s personal health column in The New York Times, Elizabeth Cohen’s “Empowered Patient” section on CNN.com and, of course, the articles and videos made possible by EmpowHer.com and founder Michelle King Robson.

You’ll also find “powerful patient” stories on patient power.info and programs to empower you, and even some on how to become more empowered such as the one with key leaders in the world of online patient empowerment found at http://www.patientpower.info/program/patient-empowerment-and-the-world-wide-web

You are not alone. So, as daunting as today’s healthcare system is, there is a GPS for how to get where you want to go. It’s in the voices and footsteps of so many who have gone before you.

About the author: Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist, cancer survivor and founder of Patient Power, a one-of-a-kind company bringing in-depth information to patients with cancer and chronic illness. Audio and video programs, plus transcripts, help patients make informed decisions to support their health in partnership with their medical team.

Patient Power is at www.PatientPower.info and on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Schorr is also the author of “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis" found at www.websavvypatient.com/

Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment3 Comments


Great article.  When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1997, researching on the internet was not the in thing.  Taking the word of the doctor was the way.  Today there is so much good information, forums and discussion groups and personal blogs that are very helpful in at least opening the patients eyes and giving them ideas for questions to ask the doctor about their health care.

December 5, 2011 - 7:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you Michelle! As you know so well, it is gratifying to be able to help others get the help and support they need. The support that you and the EmpowHER team, and the Patient Power team too, provides 24/7 to people around the world is truly making a difference. All the best to you too! Andrew

December 1, 2011 - 1:07pm
Expert HERWriter
Great article Andrew! You are right on!! Patients are no longer alone. There are so many resources on line now for people to connect with one another regarding their own health issue, access to credible resources, and lets not forget the gift of teaching one to advocate on behalf of their self. Something women have struggled with. Well, times are changing and women are using the web more and more for health information and to connect with a woman like them. I'm going to use some of your info in my upcoming talk to a group of Professional advocates while in Orlando on Monday. Best in health, MichelleDecember 1, 2011 - 12:58pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.