Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Morning, Empowered Patients

Thank you, Charlotte!

My mother in law tipped me off to a segment today on the news program Good Morning America. It discusses patient navigation and ways patients can empower themselves. Here's what's right about the segment, and what's not-exactly-right:

The ABC doctors, Besser and Ashton, offer some terrific advice to patients searching for a new physician. Best tip: if you like your current doctor, ask her who her doctor is! Of course, this only works if you have the right insurance and if the doctor is taking new patients.

The advice for uninsured patients, however, was lame.  A major missed opportunity: they didn't give out a single phone number or website. Here's one great resource for people with cancer -- insured or not! The Cancer Support Community has a free helpline 1-888-793-9355 where trained counselors can help patients find resources, make difficult decisions carefully, and get emotional support.

You can admit that people need help without -

Fear mongering: 
Is it really necessary to tell people they will be confused and scared after a cancer diagnosis? How about just saying if they want help, here are some ideas?

It's very empowering for patients to understand how to research on the Internet. Yet the segment chose to characterize the Internet as a scary place full of dangerous information instead of explaining anything of value there. 

Except for --

Unwarranted promotion
  - a website that provides personal health records and doctor research, which the story included for some reason. Meh. There are dozens of these & the free advertising didn't belong in this story.

Baby stays, bathwater goes
Patient navigation and patient empowerment; health literacy, decision support and the use of Internet technology: I have so much more to say than this brief segment did today. But it's a start. 

Watch it; share it with others & tell me what you think!

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