Over the next 20 years, rapid change will occur with the information revolution and the e-patient movement. The availability of data combined with self-advocacy is causing health care to evolve into a co-diagnosis and co-care model of service. Now more than ever, patients need to be active in and responsible for their own health care plan.
There are red flags in the current system which are signs of the need for patients to take ownership of their health care outcomes. Here are a few of them;
- Poor communication with the patient
- Forced to watch from the sideline
- Options not presented well or not understood
- Concern or questions are often deflected
- Medication errors are on the rise
- Inadequate staffing in almost all health care settings
Tips for how to navigate the red flags and prepare for the changing landscape:
- Remember, in any health care situation you are an equal partner, and you must help determine if your needs have been completely met.
- Network with others in the community, search reputable sites on the internet, research your diagnosis and find others who are obtaining great health care service for the same issues.
- Obtain an experienced advocate to assist you if it is difficult to find your voice.
- Put plans in place before an emergency occurs such as powers of attorney, financial plans, wills, etc. Choose your agents and fiduciaries wisely. They will need to be a voice for you when you can no longer manage your care and financial affairs.
- Maintain updated copies or direct access to your health care records.
- Step away from anyone and any establishment not working on your team regarding your health and planning.
- If possible, never be alone while in the hospital.
- Voice gratitude and concerns. Remember, it is a myth that voicing concerns will only make things worse. Speak when your needs are not being adequately met and report when not corrected. Reports can go to a local advocate, to your insurer, to the office manager, to the hospital patient advocate, to whomever is in charge. Do not stop until you are safe and secure.
These are amazing changing times! There is information available to the point of overload while at the same time the health care system is primarily transactional versus relational. Self-empowerment and patient engagement are required. Research shows engaged patients have the better outcomes. Are you ready?