Monday, September 10, 2007

Are you a prepared patient?

…The Health Behavior News Service puts out a periodical online called The Prepared Patient (

…In the Sept issue, an associate dean at the University of Calif Irvine School of Med, says we can set ourselves up for a performance fiasco at the doctor’s office.

…To see if they could improve on our patienthood, researchers took 20 minutes in the waiting room to walk patients through their records and sharpen up their questions.

…They call it coached care. They advise patients to think of three things they want out of the encounter.

…The idea is that the patient buys into the treatment more if he or she helped lay it out.

…But an assistant prof at Michigan State School of Med says this may cause patients to have higher expectations of the visit with the doctor, but not have the skills to make it happen.

…She has worked on helping patients communicate in general with their doctors. But the key is for signals the patient sends to tell the doctor this is a patient who wants information and wants to be involved and respected.

…Many of the Medicaid patients being coached did not send those signals. They had to learn to tell their stories better…the bio, the psych, and the social aspects.

…This is not only the pain or symptom, but the stress level of life at the moment, what is going on, and how the patient feels. (HA wonders if this doesn’t make it easier for the doc to write you off to stress. Just asking.)

…Some doctors complain about patients who want to go on and on, but one researcher said this is the exception—most patients sit there like wallpaper, she said.

…When you leave, have a list of warning signs to look for and a list of to-do’s.

…Also suggested: Try to get a backdoor way to reach the doctor in an emergency. Find out how long you should wait for a response.

…HA wishes she had coaching like this every time she goes to the doc. Someone to help her think it through before the time blurs past and it’s all over and she is basically back where she started.

…Any tips, readers?

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