Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

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Mind Over Body. Mind Over Money

Dorothy Jeffress | April 30, 2010

I was captivated this week by the PBS special Mind Over Money. This show featured the contrasting perspectives and studies of economists about how we make decisions about our money thoughts of which apparently light up a deep old part of the brain that also glimmers when either sex or food is considered.

Can You Really Choose the Best?

Trudy Lieberman | April 29, 2010

Getting Test Results

Dorothy Jeffress | April 27, 2010

Over the years, I've filled out plenty of forms at doctors' offices, but this was a new one for me.

Risky Treatment Decisions: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Jessie Gruman | April 22, 2010

Tuesday's New York Times ran a story about the unreliability of the tests and the variation among laboratory standards that determine the potential effectiveness of new targeted cancer treatments. Linda Griffin, a physician with breast cancer, described the series of treatment decisions she made with her doctors about whether or not to take the very expensive, fairly disruptive and potentially very effective drug, Herceptin, based on a genetic test that was inconclusive and further, which produced different findings when the same material was retested.

Evidence and Trustworthy Intermediaries

Jessie Gruman | April 20, 2010

2009 was not a good year for the public's understanding of evidence.

How Safe Is Your Insurance, Really?

Trudy Lieberman | April 19, 2010

Throughout the long debate over health reform, the president told us if we liked the insurance we had, we could keep it.' No government would come between us and our health coverage!'

About Death and Taxes

Dorothy Jeffress | April 16, 2010

Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)a day devoted to recognizing the importance of expressing your choices about your health care through advance directives, by creating a living will and designating a medical power of attorney.

I Want a Real Medical Home...Not a Dream

Dorothy Jeffress | April 15, 2010

When I first learned of the primary care medical home model it seemed to offer a great solution to medical homelessness a sort of permanent doctor-patient renter status, where both parties are bouncing around without a foundation, without a community and where a certain uncertainty exists and miscommunications and disorganization prevail.

What is a Symptom, Anyway?

Jessie Gruman | April 14, 2010

I recently asked my dad if he ever reads the health section of the newspaper. He said "Nope, never. That's for people who are sick."

A Faint Drumbeat in the Background

Dorothy Jeffress | April 13, 2010

Reading the Modern Love essay in the New York Times Style section has become a favorite Sunday pastime. A widely diverse set of stories explore the paths that love and relationships have taken over the years. Funny, sad, deeply personal and evocative. I find myself connecting with the writers and their subjects in unexpected ways. This week's essay, Sweetest at the End, shared the story of a beloved and accomplished husband's decline and then death from an atrophy of the frontal brain lobe.

The Squeeze of Mail-Order Drugs for People with Chronic Illness

Jessie Gruman | April 12, 2010

Do you have your prescriptions filled through a mail-order pharmacy? You are not alone.

Doctor, Please Pull Up a Chair or a Keyboard?

Dorothy Jeffress | April 9, 2010

Yesterday, our Health Headlines included a study mentioned in the Washington Post that revealed that we are more comfortable and satisfied with our communications with our clinicians when they sit down to talk with us. This study surveyed patients while in a hospital but surely this is true in office visit settings too.

The Water Is Wide: Teens with Chronic Conditions Take on Their Own Care

Jessie Gruman | April 8, 2010

I was recently trading stories about the treatment of our childhood cancers with a young friend who mentioned that until recently (he's 26), he continued to be followed by his pediatrician why switch? His doctor knew him, after all.

Everyone Doesn't Call it the Blues

Dorothy Jeffress | April 7, 2010

In a recent HBNS research news story, from a study in the journal, General Hospital Psychiatry, we reported that stigma prevents many Latinos from receiving treatment from depression. The study points out that many Latinos prefer to handle personal problems or concerns privately and may resist seeking treatment.

Not just about Mom and Dad's Health Insurance...

Trudy Lieberman | April 6, 2010

In the past two weeks I have visited two college campuses---one in Brooklyn and one in Wisconsin.' Large numbers of students turned out to hear about the new reform law and wanted to know what it meant for them.'

Emergency Back-up Plan for Slow EHR Implementation: Us

Jessie Gruman | April 5, 2010

We can be excused for thinking that our doctors have a computer program that allows them to track our health history and forward relevant record to a specialist to whom they are referring us. After all, when I walk in to my provider's office, the receptionist is sitting in front of a computer; plus my doctor makes use of other computerized devices for measuring my temperature, blood pressure, weight and heart rhythms.

Surprised I was So Unprepared

Jessie Gruman | April 2, 2010

As the first blogger on this site, I write first as a person who has been diagnosed with three different types of cancer and a serious heart condition -- and as one who manages the long-term effects of that many diagnoses and that much treatment on a daily basis.

Welcome to the "What it Takes'' Blog!

Jessie Gruman | April 1, 2010

This posting marks the initial gathering of a virtual community of individuals who recognize that each of us must participate knowledgeably and actively in finding and using health care if we are to benefit from it.