How Becoming an Empowered Patient Starts

How does one become an empowered patient?

It usually begins, as Oprah says with an AHA moment.  Here are some examples of those moments.

You just left the doctor’s office being told you or a family member have a new diagnosis and need to get a certain treatment or tests.  You left the office feeling as if you did not have a clear understanding or a clue of what just happened.  You get home and call the office back to get more information.  The medical assistant calls back and doesn’t have any further insight and says a note will be left for the doctor/NP to call.  You know at that point you must have more information.  You want to know what it all means to you and what options you have.  You go online and start a search.

A family member is in the hospital and getting worse instead of better.  The medical staff is hard to get to unless you show up at 7AM for rounds.  They keep adding new medications and talk of surgeries.  You know you have to stop the madness.

A new diagnosis and you realize you want not just more information but someone else’s opinion.  Your gut is saying something is not right.

You have symptoms and your doctor keeps telling you nothing is wrong, all the tests are normal.  You want somebody to listen and help.

Your parents need an assisted living or nursing home placement from a hospital.  You realize the case manager doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

You just received an insurance denial and/or a hospital/provider bill.  There is no way the denial/bill is correct.

These are just some of the moments people experience when the realization occurs that they need to be actively involved with their healthcare.  It starts as an emotional response from the lack of information and communication.  From this point, it organically grows into the pursuit of medical and systems knowledge .  It is based in the need to be involved in one’s healthcare decisions, the foundation  of an empowered patient.