What makes you happy with your health care experience? Do you feel satisfied after meeting with your clinician? Did you forget to mention something you had planned to discuss with your clinician or at least share about? Did you feel like your clinician listened to you? Are you able to access your clinical notes effectively afterwards? You are not alone, no matter how you answered these questions.
The terms ‘activated patients’ or ‘patient partners’ are real. The onus for ‘good care’ is really on the patient and or caregiver who participates with, and or assists the patient. The clinicians main job is to listen, diagnose and treat.
listen: The patient should ask questions at every step during an appointment. If the clinician does not reiterate back with the patient exactly what had been shared, had not articulated effectively what the medical concern is, then it is up to the patient to correct the clinician. The onus is on the patient to present their medical issues and concerns as clinicians are not mind readers. Patients should share their values, preferences and goals regarding their care specifics. Clinicians should listen to the patients concerns and symptoms, their preferred choices and work in a partnership with patients, not separate from.
diagnose: Today in this modern day world of internet search engines, I would venture to guess a large amount of us have searched our medical condition before our scheduled appointment and often pondered over the worst possible diagnosis. We then perhaps attempted to sound like we understood what our outcomes might be for the symptoms we shared, when having met with our clinician. One benefit of searching out ones possible diagnoses and outcomes is that as patients, we realize that there are a number of possibilities that could be causing our symptoms. One negative of having searched our symptoms is that somewhere in the back of our brains we might have an ongoing nagging replay of searched possible worst outcomes, diseases that are rare and deadly even. Leave the diagnosis to the experts, leave it to the clinicians to provide the diagnosis after the proper tests and analysis has commenced. We are all human though, and many of us have been misdiagnosed and or know someone who has been. One can be correctly diagnosed, over diagnosed and or underdiagnosed. Only after ones appointment, and after reviewing ones lab and or radiological test results, ones clinicians notes and most likely again searching the internet does an activated, engaged patient feel content about their care and service. Patients are consumers after all. Being activated is to be curious as well as a critical thinker.
treat: As mentioned above, condition diagnosis should be left to the experts, so should ones treatment in care. The patient onus here, is one where patients should voice and express to clinicians their values, preferences and goals regarding their treatment options. Patients should express if they have negative or adverse affects to any medicines or treatment options and should state what is preferred best for their whole health, as patients know themselves best. Treatment will most likely be effective if it aligns with ones personal values, preferences and goals. Sometimes the goal is the most important treatment outcome, you might like more mobility, less headaches, no gastric upsets. Expressing ones desired goals, what is important to oneself, what mode of treatment one prefers is really what will matter in the end. If later you as the patient decide to change course there is room for that of course, though only if you are an activated, engaged patient and have an effective line of communication with your clinician.
Values, preferences and goals regarding health care delivery will change overtime. As a young adult you might have a goal to climb a mountain > even though you have asthma, a few years later you might worry about having healthy children and how to address this concern effectively, then in middle age one might be concerned about life balance and ones level of energy and stamina in the workplace and how best to address “keeping up”, and then around retirement age, ones health concerns become more complex in every way imaginable, even the unimaginable.
Thank you for reading this blog piece, if you are interested in becoming an activated, engaged patient look into the possibility of:
- Joining one of your health care facilities patient and family advisory councils
- Sign up to participate in quality improvement activities and or co-design opportunities
- Ask if there are patients serving in governance roles, your voice can make a positive difference at all levels
- Inquire about how to participate in health research activities that your health care facility might partner with
You will learn that by participating as an activated, engaged patient partner you will find yourself asking more questions about your own health, begin to think more critically and most likely will desire better health outcomes not only for yourself, though hope and work for better health outcomes for all. I recommend going forward, if possible, for you to think about becoming an activated patient or caregiver, an engaged patient, as we can all do more.
Read more about Choosing Wisely http://www.choosingwisely.org/
Read more about Open Notes Initiative https://www.opennotes.org/