Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh, Dr Oz! How did you get so smart?

I chose a career in communications because I wanted to wield the power of “right message, right time, right format.” With any luck this blog hits at least two of the three some of the time. But this week Dr Oz hit a home run with his "Ultimate! Health! Checklist!" (emphasis mine).

See step #6? It says "Find a health advocate." He recommends, and therefore Oprah endorses, the concept of personal health advocates, aka patient advocates. Brilliant! It gives me great hope that Dr Oz told seven million viewers to advocate for their loved ones -- and visa versa.

IT is power
Many people will be uncertain what it means to be an advocate; his explanation is very brief. I learned a lot recently from a report about health advocates on KQED FM's Health Dialogues that focused on payment disputes. While Oz focuses on medical decision-making, advocates are often needed for both.

One thing I DO know about being a patient advocate: information is your currency. So I believe Dr Oz's step #7 is related. “Organize your medical records,” Oz & Oprah say. And I'll get right on it -- as soon as I figure out how. Online, like Healthvault? Or on my hard drive?

Continuing the conversation
For most Americans our relationship with our healthcare information is the weak technological link in our lives. According to a 2006 survey by the Markle Foundation, two-thirds of the public is interested in accessing their own personal health information electronically. The movement for greater patient empowerment and responsibility has snowballed, and we will ultimately all have electronic medical records. It's going to happen and it's going to be great -- and now Oprah's on board.

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