PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

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

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Hospital Ratings: What Do They Really Mean?

Trudy Lieberman | June 29, 2010

From WHIO, a news talk radio station in Dayton, Ohio, comes word that four area hospitals rank in the top five percent nationally for emergency care. That is impressive, I guess. If you have an emergency, your chances of having a good outcome in one of them are probably pretty high. At least that's a reasonable assumption. The story went on to say that HealthGrades, the outfit that gives the awards, evaluates the hospitals based on their mortality rates for 11 of the most common conditions for patients needing emergency treatment. Furthermore, only 255 of the 4,900 acute care hospitals in the country got the award. A viewer might be doubly impressed.

How Can We Pay Less for our Health Care?

Jessie Gruman | June 25, 2010

I just completed a series of radio and TV interviews about the extent to which people participate in their health care you know, those three-questions-in-90 seconds blips that currently constitute news for the viewing/listening public.

Open Wide and Say Uh-oh

Sarah Jorgenson | June 22, 2010

I had been delaying this visit for awhile now in hope that whatever was growing under my tongue would heal itself. I'd already exhausted visits with a dentist and a physician assistant, but an oral surgeon just sounded so intense for what I presumed was not that big of a deal.

Is Choosing a Health Plan Like Buying a Car or Canned Goods?

Trudy Lieberman | June 21, 2010

Do consumers buy health insurance like they buy canned peas? Or should they? That's the big question market place advocates have been trying to answer now for more than a decade. The government and others have thrown gobs of money at this vexing problem trying to figure out the best combination of stars, bars and other symbols that will catch the shopper's eye.

The Inconvenient Evidence on Alzheimer's

Jessie Gruman | June 16, 2010

Lifestyle May Not Prevent Alzheimer's trumpets a headline in Time magazine. The article goes on to describe a carefully conducted review of decades of evidence examining the hypothesis that exercise, social relationships, diet or vitamins can ward off Alzheimer's disease. The study concludes that there is not sufficient evidence to be able to recommend that the public take any of these actions to prevent or delay the disease.

Some Honesty about Medicare Advantage Plans, Please

Trudy Lieberman | June 11, 2010

Obama administration officials and the president himself have been on the road selling the benefits of health reform.' The other day in Maryland the president was touting the $250 rebate sent this week to some three million Medicare beneficiaries whose prescription drug expenses have reached the infamous donut hole where there is no coverage.

Watching the UK Careen Toward National Online Medical Records

Jessie Gruman | June 9, 2010

The National Health Service in the UK has rolled out its campaign to inform the public that an individual's online summary care record will soon be readily available to any health care worker. At that point, people will be able to view their summary, schedule hospital appointments and make use of health information and links to help them manage their health and lifestyle by keeping track of information like your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and medications.

Do Health Threats Migrate?

Jessie Gruman | June 7, 2010

Have you ever gotten one of those phone calls from your doctor the starts out I'm very concerned about what we saw in your mammogram/colonoscopy/echocardiogram?

What Happens When COBRA Disappears?

Trudy Lieberman | June 4, 2010

For thousands of laid-off Americans who have been relying on COBRA for their health insurance the past several months, Friday brought some bad news. In an effort to trim the deficit, the House voted to drop an extension of COBRA benefits that would have given displaced workers coverage until the end of the year. That would have cost the government nearly $8 billion. The Senate will vote on the issue next week.

Getting to the Right Doctor at the Right Time

Jessie Gruman | June 3, 2010

One of the behaviors necessary to be a prepared patient is to seek and use the appropriate health care setting when professional attention is required.

The Perils of Consenting Adults

Jessie Gruman | June 1, 2010

Most of us like it when our health care decisions are simple and straightforward -- when the potential benefit of one option far outweighs the benefits and risks of the other. Should I smoke? No. Should I get a mammogram? Yes. However, advances in screening, preventive measures, diagnostic technologies and treatments have rendered our preference for the certainty of the simple choice obsolete.