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