I’m speaking today at the annual Health Fair for Rich Products employees in Buffalo. They’re proactive about a family attitude, responsibility, and consumer engagement, and that extends to health.
In preparing for this speech, they asked me to be sure to offer takeaways – specific, concrete to-do’s for people to use after the day is complete. Here they are:
The Magic Incantation
(introducing yourself as an e-patient):
Here’s what I say when I meet a new clinician, to explain my appetite for understanding:
“I’m the kind of patient
who likes to understand
as much as I can
about my health.”
“Could I ask
Shazam: you’re an e-patient! Empowered, engaged, equipped, enabled.
It’s exactly what I said when I met the dermatologist who removed my skin cancer last week. So after our first meeting, when I did have questions to ask, it was natural.
Five starter questions:
When you or your family encounter a diagnosis, here are some basic questions to use:
- How can I learn about my condition?
- Good websites or pamphlets?
- What are my options?
- How much does this cost?
- Are there any other options?
- Do other doctors offer anything else?
- What are the risks?
- How strong is the evidence?
- Can I connect with other patients?
Don’t worry, these questions aren’t rude! By asking them you’re being a responsible, activated, engaged patient. That’s great, because throughout medicine one of the most widespread complaints is about patients who aren’t engaged.
Remember, e-patients are empowered, engaged, equipped, enabled, educated, sometimes expert … in your travels you’ll take this wherever it takes you. And don’t forget to use your Health Advocate benefit!
Rich Pomerantz says
Asking a doctor how much will it cost is just a start. When the doc replies (as they most likely will) that s/he has no idea what the procedure/exam/etc costs, the empowered patient’s next question should be “How can I make any kind of educated choice about whether to let you treat me without knowing what it costs?” Asking a doc about cost opens an enormous can of worms, one which doctors are loathe to let anyone really examine, because it will affect their bottom line. They are just like everyone else, trying to preserve their income. doctors want cost to remain outside the treatment conversation, because they say it injects unnecessary and irrelevant factors into that discussion. That is only partly a valid concern. The true issue is just as much about protecting their income and keeping the patient “un-empowered”.
e-Patient Dave says
Actually, Rich, my experience is that most docs have no ability to answer what it costs. That info is hidden from them just as it’s hidden from everyone else, including patients.
In all my conversations with providers it’s a given that I assume a respectful collaborative partnership… not everything we want is possible but we can sure talk about it.
Dave, since Thursday when Lawrence Sherman showed the let patients help in his pres in Paris at Doctors2.0 & You Conf., and I gave them as homework the E-Patients White Paper, you have got tens of new fans in France. It was a great conference, you should make a note for next year…
You should not have to ask the doc these things, they should be automatically offered if they have been taught correctly.