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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'Everybody Has Plans 'Til They Get Punched in the Mouth'

Carolyn Thomas | April 1, 2014

In boxing terms, this is completely literal, sound advice. As a figurative metaphor for illness, it's not bad, either. Because no matter how competent, how smart, how resourceful we may think we are before a catastrophic health crisis strikes, many of us may suddenly feel incompetent, ignorant and helpless when thrust inexplicably into the stress of such formidable reality...

Costs Complicated Dad's Cancer Care

Laura Sander | March 31, 2014

"I walked in a person, and out a cancer patient," my dad said as we filed home. Crossing this threshold, we found ourselves on the other side of medicine – the side on the exam table or gurney, as opposed to the one standing over it. In time, it became clear we were running out of money...

The Goldilocks Approach to Our Health Knowledge: How Much Is Just Right?

Jessie Gruman | March 26, 2014

Most professional health care stakeholders believe that the more we patients and caregivers know about our health and diseases, the better our outcomes will be. When faced with the facts about our health risks and dangerous habits, they think we will rationally change our behaviors and correct our misunderstandings. As a patient, I want to know: At what point do I know enough to reap these hypothetical benefits?

Do People Really Want to Tech Their Way to Health?

Jane Sarasohn Kahn | March 25, 2014

The hockey-stick growth of "wearable technology" seen at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show begs the question: Will people pay out-of-pocket for gadgets that help them measure their steps, track their sleep, quantify their calories, record their heart rate and feedback their mood? A caveat emptor to investors seeing short-term dollar signs in the digital health sector...

When a Loved One Is Hospitalized

Bonnie Friedman | March 24, 2014

My husband has been in the hospital 14 times over the past 24 years. What I've learned is that my role as advocate is just as important to his recovery as the roles of doctors and the nurses. You may not have a medical degree, but you have intelligence and instincts...

My (Un)prepared Patient Story

Jessie Gruman | March 19, 2014

I'm impressed with the health care that is now available to treat diseases that – even a decade ago – were a death sentence. And I'm so very grateful for them. But we and our doctors and nurses often overlook just how much the success of these tools depend on our active, informed participation. And many of us don't fully understand what it takes to participate well in our care...

The Dilemma of Canceled Insurance Policies

Trudy Lieberman | March 18, 2014

By now it's hardly a secret that insurance companies have canceled the policies of millions of Americans whose old coverage did not comply with new benefit requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But after hearing all the backlash and requiring people to buy newer and, in the eyes of ACA supporters, better policies, the administration took another U-turn and changed the rules once again...

Is a Daily Dose of Many Pills in Your Future?

Andrew Schorr | March 17, 2014

I recently had breakfast with an aging cousin, Walter, who has become infirm in his senior years. I knew he had several doctors and took medicine. It wasn't until breakfast time, however, that I realized how many medicines Walter took – and I was bowled over...

Alzheimer's Stories That Matter

Marie Marley | March 14, 2014

The stories told by people with Alzheimer's can teach us a lot about their lives. They also help us find important topics to discuss when we visit, which can make our visits far more pleasant and meaningful to the person we're seeing...

Common Bias Ignored: Patients and Families Lose

Jessie Gruman | March 12, 2014

There's a pesky cognitive bias that creates a honking big barrier to patients and families making the most of the health advice and services available to us. It's the tendency of experts to overestimate the knowledge of others. Given my current, frequent brushes with health care, I experience this all the time: "Just go to the lab and ask them," I'm told by my chemo nurse. I think: Huh? What lab? Where? Ask who? The effects of health stakeholders' overestimation of our knowledge are profound...

Look Who's Coming Between You and Your Doctor

Trudy Lieberman | March 11, 2014

Opponents of health care reform, especially those who resist moving to a single payer system like Canada’s, have often used a very powerful argument to sway public opinion. Any significant changes, they warn, to America's private insurance system would mean that the government will come between patients and their doctors by making decisions about the care Americans receive. But what if it's not the government that is inserting itself between you and your doctor?

What Is Patient-Centered Medicine, Really?

Barbara Kivowitz | March 10, 2014

We have all heard the term patient-centered medicine by now. It's in the PR materials for hospitals, in the Affordable Care Act, in health care model innovations like the "medical home" and the "accountable care organization." But what is it? What would you like to see in a health system that is truly patient-centered?

The Other 'F' Word

Jackie Fox | March 6, 2014

At my six-month checkup yesterday all was routine, other than my blood pressure being 131 over something when it's usually in the 115 range. Ten years ago I wouldn't have shared my fears at all, but thanks to early-stage breast cancer it's hard for my mind not to immediately go to the worst-case scenario...

Medication Adherence: Shift Focus From Patients to System

Jessie Gruman | March 5, 2014

National conferences aimed at solving the problem of our wide-scale non-adherence to prescription medications feature expert reports about our misbehavior and bewail the huge number of us who fail to adhere to the ideal schedule. Then each conference gives plenty of airtime to more experts describing smart pill bottles, apps that nag at us, and how patient communities can provide important information about our drugs since our clinicians rarely do. Enough with blaming patients for our approach to taking our (many) medications...

Obamacare Websites: Not Just a .Gov Problem

Trudy Lieberman | March 4, 2014

Shoppers searching the Internet for health insurance coverage can be forgiven if they are confused.