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Welcome to the "What it Takes'' Blog!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 1, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

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.

Surprised I was So Unprepared

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 2, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

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.

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 15, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress

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.

Can You Really Choose the Best?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 29, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

In a Hospital and Concerned About Quality?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 3, 2010 | Carol Cronin

Your mother is in the hospital. The nurse comes in to give her a drug. You ask what drug it is and it's something to which she's allergic a fact noted on the long list of things you had to provide at admission. The nurse apologizes profusely and gets a substitute drug for her. The next day about the same time, a different nurse comes in to give your mother a drug. Again, you ask and again it is the wrong drug.

Access to Health Insurance Is Just a Start

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 7, 2010 | Kalahn Taylor Clark

In May 2009, my 61 year old mother, who lives in Maine, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. My proud mother worked hard every day of her life as a cleaning person to provide me the best education, often bartering with clients so that she could provide dental or eye care or other services for me while I was growing up.

Our Shopping Problem

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 17, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Apparently, borrowers who obtained a home loan in the last five years spent five hours researching a mortgage, half the amount of time they spent researching a car and the same amount of time they spent researching a vacation, according to a study reported in The New York Times on Saturday.

Will You Be Helped by the New High-Risk Health Pools?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 26, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

The new health reform law is what I like to call an 'over-the-line proposition' because undoubtedly, someone is going to be left out. ' What passed the Congress will not bring universal health coverage to America; nor does it assure that everyone is entitled to health care as a matter of right.' It simply adds more people to the current system by giving them subsidies to buy insurance they couldn't otherwise afford.' In such a system, there will always be people over the line'they won't qualify for this subsidy or that program either because the government limits its spending on them, or it wants to encourage people to use private insurance to keep those markets strong.

The Perils of Consenting Adults

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 1, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

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.

Getting to the Right Doctor at the Right Time

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 3, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

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.

What Happens When COBRA Disappears?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 4, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

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.

Hospital Ratings: What Do They Really Mean?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 29, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

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.

Obama and My Uncle Johnny

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 2, 2010 | Kafi Grigsby

I was home relaxing when I received a call from Uncle Johnny. When I saw on the Caller-ID that it was him, I braced myself. Calls with my Uncle Johnny were never brief, by nature he was loud so I had to yell too, and his conversations always involved more than a few swear words. My uncle has been described as a gun not a pistol, but a gun!

Sunshine Isn't So Bright After All

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 9, 2010 | Sarah Jorgenson

A recent article in MedPage Today reported that most physicians have a favorable view about gifts from pharmaceutical and medical technology companies. What do we, as patients or potential patients, think about that?

What Happens When an Insurance Company Misbehaves

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 12, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took the rare step this spring of kicking Fox Insurance out of the Medicare Part D drug benefit program, it pretty much went unnoticed. CMS went after Fox, admittedly small fry in the pool of insurers, and said they couldn't sell any more stand-alone prescription drug plans to seniors These plans are the kind that people buy to complement Medigap policies that don't offer any drug coverage.

Who's Got My Back?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 27, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Last week The New York Times published a front-page feature about how diagnosing breast cancer can be surprisingly difficult, prone to both outright error and case-by-case disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or malignant.

Keeping an Eye on Insurance Rate Hikes

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 29, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Are You a DIY Traveler/Patient?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 30, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress

Once upon a time, most people traveling outside the US depended on a travel agent and some were only comfortable when they were part of an organized tour. Finding top hotels or out of the way adventures was best left to experts. Travel guides available at bookstores, though often outdated, were gripped in sweaty hands, consulted like Bibles.

Making Sure Minnie Doesn't Bounceback

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 10, 2010 | James Cooper, MD

Sorting Through the Indecipherable 'Explanation of Benefits' Is Becoming a Required Skill

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 16, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

A young friend showed me her Explanation of Benefits from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. "I don't really understand it," she said. This woman has a master's degree from the London School of Economics but couldn't comprehend what her insurance carrier was telling her...

Antibiotic Resistance, Evidence-Based Medicine and the End of the World as We Know It

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 24, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Delivering evidence-based medicine is a deceptively elegant and simple goal.' But new findings about the increase in antibiotic resistance challenge us to consider just how complicated and challenging it is to actually define and deliver evidence-based care.'

The People and Evidence-Based Medicine: We are All Above Average

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 1, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Problems with evidence-based guidelines and comparative effectiveness research all have at their core the conflict between averages and individuals.

Do Scientists Understand the Public? And Does It Matter?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 16, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Exploring these questions is relevant to all who are working to support people's engagement in their health and health care. They are also relevant to the debate about the value of comparative effectiveness research. Science journalist Chris Mooney reports a couple of provocative points in this account of four meetings on the topic sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences over the past year.

Another Devastating Diagnosis to Face

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 27, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

I have stomach cancer and will undergo surgery to remove part or all of my stomach today.

Could Less Health Care Be Better for Our Health?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 4, 2010 | Jim Jaffe

The Medicare Sales Season Begins: As Always, Buyer Beware!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Is Health Care Killing Us?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 8, 2010 | Chris Gibbons

Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor at Reuters, is reporting that a recent study suggests that Americans die sooner than citizens of a dozen other developed nations and the usual suspects ' obesity, traffic accidents and a high murder rate ' are not to blame. Instead, poor health care may be the cause.

Selecting Health Insurance? Help from Around the Web:

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 13, 2010 | CFAH Staff

In his most recent blog, "How to Pick Good Health Insurance - Your Life Depends on It," Dr. Davis Liu emphasizes how important is it for us to evaluate carefully our health insurance plans. Liu points out that, unlike other companies or products whose efficacy may impact our lives modestly ' your car wash, dry cleaners and choice of movie theater ' the ranking of your health insurance plan relative to others impacts your life greatly. And not all health plans are created equal.

Direct-to-Consumer Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 19, 2010 | Chris Gibbons

On October 11, 2010, Baltimore Sun reporter Meredith Cohn reported that some U.S. health care providers are experimenting with trying to reach patients through social media and reaping big rewards. Providers are not just using Twitter and Facebook but trying new social media tools like Groupon, Foursquare, Scoutmob and LivingSocial that all blend social media with market forces to bring customers value and create new revenue for entrepreneurs, business owners and now health care providers.

How Useful Is the Government's Hospital Compare Web Site?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 22, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Well, what do you know? Another study surfaced this week raising more questions about the usefulness of the information on the federal government's Hospital Compare web site, just at a time when most of us are thinking about choosing new health plans for next year. For some time now, the standard advice has been to look at all available data for the doctors and hospitals in the plans you are considering. That has meant heading to the Medicare Web site and its Hospital Compare data set.

Contemplating Safety While Lying Down

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 1, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

You have to get out of this hospital it's a dangerous place, each of my physician friends exclaimed when they came to visit me during my recent stay after surgery for stomach cancer.

Inside Health Care: Dichotomies: Quality or Familiarity? Empower or Manage?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 8, 2010 | Inside Health Care

Doctors and Their Speaking Fees

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 11, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Would you keep using a doctor who collected $300,000 or even $300 in speaking fees from drug companies for saying a good word about their products? That's the question the non-profit, investigative journalism outfit ProPublica is inviting thousands of patients to ponder.

Inside Health Care: Physicians Put on a Gown and the Power of Touch

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 12, 2010 | Inside Health Care

A collection of professional voices from around the web including Dr. Herbert Mathewson in The Health Care Blog, Dr. Kevin Pho of KevinMD.com, and Dr. Rob Lamberts on his blog, Musings of a Distractible Mind. These highlight the patient experience from a professional perspective and the power of touch.

Inside Health Care: Exploring Accountable Care Organizations

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 30, 2010 | CFAH Staff

Doctors, lawyers, researchers, and hospital CEOs all have something to say these days about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). A collection of web posts includes: Frank Pasquale with Concurring Opinions, Anna D. Sinaiko and Meredith B. Rosenthal in The New England Journal of Medicine's November Perspectives, Vince Kuratis on The Health Care Blog, Jim Sabin on KevinMD, and Paul Levy on Running a Hospital.

Conversation Continues: Physicians and Their Relationships with Pharmas

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 1, 2010 | CFAH Staff

Gary Switzer's post on the Health News Review blog reminds us once again of potential conflicts between physician/pharma and consumer interests.

Why We Still Kill Patients: Invisibility, Inertia, And Income

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 7, 2010 | Michael Millenson

A recent front-page article in the New York Times conveyed grim news about patient safety. The first large-scale study of hospital safety in a decade concluded that care has not gotten significantly safer since the Institute of Medicine's 1999 estimate of up to 98,000 preventable deaths and 1 million preventable injuries annually.

Prepared Patient: In Case of Emergency: Who's Who in the ER

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 13, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

While commuting to work in September 2009, Ashley Finley stopped her bike short to avoid a pedestrian and flew over the handlebars, hitting her head on the pavement. Her chin gushing blood and with concerns about head injury, Ashley and her partner, Goldie Pyka*, immediately headed to an ER. Though their wait time in the Washington, D.C., emergency room was minimal, Pyka says she felt surprised by the number of people who participated in Ashley's care. 'I was expecting to see one person, tell them what happened and have that person help. I wasn't expecting to interact with that many people and to not really be told who they were and what they were there for. I felt we were very passive in the whole experience,' Pyka says.

More on ERs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 14, 2011 | Conversation Continues

CNN's Empowered Patient also focused on emergency rooms in their January 13th article Don't Die Waiting in the ER .More articles and features in Elizabeth Cohen's Empowered Patient series can be found here.

Inside Health Care: Who ARE you anyway, Doctor?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 28, 2011 | CFAH Staff

Pediatric specialist, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian MD, writes about a time when he forgot to introduce himself to a new patient and on the Patient Empowerment Blog, Trisha Torrey recognizes the problem with the lack of identification in the clinical setting, and reflects deeper on the issue of patient safety.

The Emergency Room and the Wait

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 7, 2011 | Carrie Nelson

This is a HUGE problem. We have a lot of unnecessary hospital emergency department (ED) use in this country. Stories like this one in which a very ill child was kept waiting dangerously long to see the doctor are a natural consequence of ED overcrowding. You can blame the healthcare workers for not recognizing the severity of her illness. You can blame your doctor for those interminable waits on the phone that cause you to not even want to pick up the phone to request a same day appointment.

The Dilemma of Digital Mammography

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 7, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

The rapid changeover from traditional mammography'pictures taken with film'to the new digital imaging technology poses a thorny dilemma for women, especially those over 65. The scientific evidence suggests that digital mammography does not improve the detection of breast cancer in older women.

Inside Health Care: Evidence Patient Safety Improves With a Checklist

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 8, 2011 | CFAH Staff

Checklists are not just for rocket launches. Family doctor, Dr. Davis Liu, Rep. Giffords' trauma surgeon, Dr. Randall Friese, former hospital CEO, Dr. Paul Levy, and a fifth year medical student, Ishani Ganguli, post on the importance of using checklists to promote patient safety. A new British Medical Journal study agrees.

Vanishing Health Care Choices

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 16, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Ask someone what he or she remembers Obama promising during the great health reform debates, and the response might be: 'We can keep the insurance we have.' The president did offer assurances that there would be no socialized medicine with the government dictating where you could go for care. He did not mention, though, that many insured people already have little say in what kind of coverage they get and who can treat them.

Conversation Continues: Evidence of the Effects of Empathy

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 11, 2011 | CFAH Staff

A TIME article this week reveals new research that 'doctors who are more empathetic actually have healthier patients.' More on empathy and its role in health outcomes.....

We Can Overcome Chronic Disease Disparities

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 17, 2011 | Chris Gibbons

According to American Medical News, the U.S. health system is demonstrating better performance on most measures of health care quality, but it's failing to improve access to care or cut racial and ethnic health disparities.

Guest Blog: Quality or Value? A Measure for the 21st Century

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 24, 2011 | Marya Zilberberg

Fascinating, how in the same week two giants of evidence-based medicine have given such divergent views on the future of quality improvement. Donald Berwick, the CMS administrator and founder and former head of the Institute for Health Care Improvement, emphasizes the need for quality as the strategy for success in our healthcare system. But one of the fathers of EBM, Muir Gray, states that quality is so 20th century, and we need instead to shine the light on value. So, who is right?

The Lemon of Illness and the Demand for Lemonade

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 13, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

"Life gives you lemons and you make lemonade your response to all those cancer diagnoses is so positive, such a contribution!" "Your work demonstrates that illness is a great teacher." "Your illness has been a blessing in disguise." Well-meaning, thoughtful people have said things like this to me since I started writing about the experience of being seriously ill and describing what I had to do to make my health care work for me. I generally hear in such comments polite appreciation of my efforts, which is nice because I know that people often struggle to know just what to say when confronted by others' hardships.

Semper Paratus: Our Decisions About Emergency Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 20, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Nora misjudged the height of the stair outside the restaurant, stepped down too hard, jammed her knee and tore her meniscus. Not that we knew this at the time. All we knew then was that she was howling from the pain. There we were on a dark, empty, wet street in lower Manhattan, not a cab in sight, with a wailing, immobile woman. What to do? Call 911? Find a cab to take her home and contact her primary care doctor for advice? Take her home, put ice on her knee, feed her Advil and call her doctor in the morning?

Guest Blog: The Role of Experience in Science-Based Medicine

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 21, 2011 | Harriet Hall

Before we had EBM (evidence-based medicine) we had another kind of EBM: experience-based medicine. Mark Crislip has said that the three most dangerous words in medicine are 'In my experience.' I agree wholeheartedly.

The Cognitive Traps We All Fall Into

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 26, 2011 | Harriet Hall

In my recent review of Peter Palmieri's book Suffer the Children I said I would later try to cover some of the many other important issues he brings up. One of the themes in the book is the process of critical thinking and the various cognitive traps doctors fall into. I will address some of them here. This is not meant to be systematic or comprehensive, but rather a miscellany of things to think about. Some of these overlap.

Guest Blog: A Day in the Life of a Super Hero

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 10, 2011 | Lindsey Hoggle

Greg Mortenson, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller, Three Cups of Tea'One Man's Mission to Promote Peace'One School at a Time, is one of the latest fallen, or at the very least, stumbling heroes. Recent controversies have threatened his life's work to build schools in war torn communities like Iraq and Afghanistan. Mortenson has been commended by the likes of Tom Brokaw and Bill Clinton.

Check-In-The-Box Medicine: Can the Blunt Instrument of Policy Shape Our Communication with Clinicians?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 15, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

I sat in a dingy pharmacy near the Seattle airport over the holidays, waiting for an emergency prescription. For over two hours I watched a slow-moving line of people sign a book, pay and receive their prescription(s). The cashier told each customer picking up more than one prescription or a child's prescription to wait on the side.

Shared Decision Making in the News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 29, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Media coverage of the challenges we face in making good treatment decisions often focuses on and sensationalizes medical errors, catastrophes and risks. So it was great to see this impressive TV news clip circulated by Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org in his blog last week.

Bad Language: Words One Patient Won't Use (and Hopes You Won't Either)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 3, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

"There is a better way - structural reforms that empower patients with greater choices and increase the role of competition in the health-care marketplace." Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) August 3, 2011. The highly charged political debates about reforming American health care have provided tempting opportunities to rename the people who receive health services. But because the impetus for this change has been prompted by cost and quality concerns of health care payers, researchers and policy experts rather than emanating from us out of our own needs, some odd words have been called into service.

Making Informed Health Care Choices

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 4, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Recent pieces at HealthNewsReview Blog and in the Washington Post highlight the need for accessible and reliable information about health care services.

Guest Blog: NIH to Drop Requirement for Websites Disclosing Researchers' Ties to Industry

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 5, 2011 | Elaine Schattner

Word comes from Nature News that the NIH is dropping a proposed requirement for universities to disclose researchers' financial ties to industry on websites. This is a loss for patients, who may not be aware of their doctors' relationships with pharmaceutical companies and others who fund clinical trials, fellowships, conference junkets and other perks for physicians.

Rhetoric Ahead of Reality: Doctor Ratings Not Useful Yet

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 10, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Given the current lack of useful objective information, we should be wary of imprecations for us to thoroughly check out any doctor before we consult him. For many of us, the idea that we can pre-judge the competence of a physician is presumptuous.

Check out this week's Grand Rounds at DrPullen.com

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 16, 2011 | CFAH Staff

Better Health's Grand Rounds is hosted this week by Dr. Ed Pullen, a board certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, WA. His medical blog provides an experienced family physician's viewpoint on medical news as well as giving interesting and helpful information to help patients be informed.

Name Calling in Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 17, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Here is access to my interview-Name Calling in Health Care-hosted by Taunya English on NPR station WHYY.

Defining 'Quality Health Care'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 6, 2011 | Inside Health Care

How do you calibrate care so that it is neither too much nor too little? In this collection of recent posts, health care professionals search for that 'just right' level of care.

Using Health IT to Address Healthcare Disparities

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 8, 2011 | Chris Gibbons

With almost a decade's worth of the National Healthcare Disparities Reports behind us, it is clear that addressing disparities defies simplistic solutions. As we all believe that the complexity of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and HIV/AIDS will not stop us from one day finding a cure, I firmly believe that this same tenacity of spirit is needed to successfully surmount the challenges of disparities.

Patient Engagement: Expert Dale Shaller Talks about Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 12, 2011 | Dale Shaller

This interview with Dale Shaller is the first in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Patient Engagement: Expert Connie Davis Talks about Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 19, 2011 | Connie Davis

This interview with Connie Davis is the second in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Will Oz Connect Washington with the People in the Heartland on Health Care Quality?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 21, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

When I think back over the past 35 years and my treatment for now four different cancer-related diagnoses, I am amazed by how much has changed. The diagnostic and treatment technologies are light years more sophisticated and effective.

Patient Engagement: Expert Molly Mettler Talks about Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 26, 2011 | Molly Mettler

This interview with Molly Mettler is the third in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Patient Engagement: Expert David Sobel Talks about Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 3, 2011 | David Sobel

This interview with David Sobel is the fourth in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Patient Engagement: Expert Kate Lorig Talks about Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 11, 2011 | Kate Lorig

This interview with Kate Lorig is the fifth in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Patient Engagement: Expert Shoshanna Sofaer Talks about Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 17, 2011 | Shoshanna Sofaer

This interview with Shoshanna Sofaer is the sixth in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Why Patient Care Needs To Get Personal

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 19, 2011 | David L. Katz

Evidence-based medicine, in other words, is population-based medicine. The care of any individual patient is based on the experiences of patients who have come before. And while to some extent that is unavoidable, it is also a great peril.

"That's Not What I Wanted to Hear!": Evidence-Based Medicine and Our Hard Choices

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 19, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

American health care treads a fine line between trying to serve the good of the many and the interests of the individual. But no one has yet figured out a cost-effective, yet humane, way to do both.

Patient Engagement: Expert Trudy Lieberman Talks About Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 7, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

This interview with Trudy Lieberman is the ninth and final of a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Take a Number

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 8, 2011 | Inside Health Care

Nobody likes to wait. And patients and doctors alike are frustrated by the general waiting that seems to be an inevitable part of delivering and receiving care. Here, Art Markman, Lisa Gualtieri, and anonymous patient blogger WarmSocks share their views.

Prepared Patient: Using Physician Rating Websites

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 15, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

User reviews and ratings on websites can help you locate a reputable handyman, the perfect restaurant for your anniversary dinner or the right TV for your den. So why wouldn't you turn to the Internet to find your next doctor? New health review sites promise to help you make this important decision for yourself or your loved ones. However, patients and physicians alike are finding that these doctor reviews aren't as transparent or useful as they might seem.

1st Person: Are Doctor Ratings Sites Useful?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 15, 2011 | First Person

When it came time for Jennifer Stevens, an Omaha, Nebraska resident and mother of two, to find an obstetrician for her first baby, she was faced with a dilemma.

What is the Scope of Primary Care?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 29, 2011 | Inside Health Care

Even when you know you should see a doctor, it can be hard to know whether to visit your primary care provider or consult a specialist. In this roundup, physician bloggers consider the range of services covered by PCPs.

Who Accesses Health Care, and How?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 19, 2011 | Inside Health Care

All kinds of people seek out health care, but studies show that not everyone accesses and receives care in the same way. Here, health care insiders look at how access varies among women, children and those with disabilities.

Book Review: Dissecting American Health Care: Commentaries on Health Policy and Politics

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 21, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

My friend and former Chair of the CFAH Board of Trustees, Doug Kamerow, has written a book that I think you will like. His compilation of essays is wonderful if you have a mild interest in health policy and is important for public health students. It's also a fun read for those of us who spend our days working on the issues Doug highlights.

Prepared Patient: In Case of Emergency: Who's Who in the ER

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 22, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

While commuting to work in September 2009, Ashley Finley stopped her bike short to avoid a pedestrian ' and flew over the handlebars, hitting her head on the pavement. Her chin gushing blood and with concerns about head injury, Ashley and her partner, Goldie Pyka*, immediately headed to an ER. Though their wait time in the Washington, D.C., emergency room was minimal, Pyka says she felt surprised by the number of people who participated in Ashley's care. 'I was expecting to see one person, tell them what happened and have that person help. I wasn't expecting to interact with that many people and to not really be told who they were and what they were there for. I felt we were very passive in the whole experience,' Pyka says.

1st Person: Small Steps: Adapting to New Technology for Better Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 12, 2012 | First Person

Joan Reder, a person with diabetes, spends her days working as a medical transcriptionist, so you might assume she'd be pretty comfortable with anything involving medicine. But recently, the 59 year-old was faced with the daunting prospect of converting from her familiar daily insulin injections to an insulin pump, which would continuously monitor her blood glucose and deliver insulin to her body when needed.

What's Engagement Now? Expert Gail Hunt Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 18, 2012 | Gail Hunt

This interview with Gail Hunt is the first in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman, and health care experts'among them our CFAH Board of Trustees'who have devoted their careers to helping people find good health care and make the most of it.

Guest Blog: Super Bowl Sanitation: "Washed Up" Giants Outpoint Docs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 31, 2012 | Michael Millenson

Is the New York Giants bathroom more sanitary than your hospital room? Could be. And that player cleanliness may even have helped send the team to the Super Bowl.

What's Engagement Now? Expert Carol Cronin Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 1, 2012 | Carol Cronin

Most people still assume that they don't need to worry about the quality of the care they receive, whether it is from a doctor, in a hospital or in a nursing home. It's pretty frightening to realize that you do have to care about it, because it means you have to assume the burden. If quality does vary, you have to do the research. This is hard to deal with when you are upset.

Quality Care is Compassionate Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 6, 2012 | Patient Perspectives

The experience of quality health care may vary from person to person, but in this patient blog roundup, it's clear that true quality considers a person's emotional well-being and their unique circumstances.

Prepared Patient: Young Adults Taking the Health Care Reins

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 9, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

Your parents still might be willing to do your laundry, but if you're over 18, they can't make your medical decisions. Are you ready to navigate the adult health care system? This updated Prepared Patient feature offers advice for young people who are just starting out in managing their health care, including information on important provisions from the Affordable Care Act.

What's Engagement Now? Expert Douglas Kamerow Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 15, 2012 | Douglas Kamerow

Three of the things that optimal patient engagement depends on are TIME, TOOLS and TEMPERAMENT. Clinicians and patients experience each of these differently, but they are central to us working together to get the best possible outcomes.

What's Engagement Now? Expert Patricia Barrett Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 29, 2012 | Patricia Barrett

One way NCQA looks at patient engagement is in the choice arena, by helping people pick who they'll get their care from. We provide information for people and purchasers to use to make choices about individual clinicians, practices and health plans, for example, based on objective ratings.

Guest Blog: A New Breed of Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 5, 2012 | Anne Polta

Starting in 2015, students who aspire to become doctors will be tested on more than just their knowledge of the sciences. They'll also need to have a good understanding of psychology, sociology and biology and how these forces help shape individual health and behavior.

Guest Blog: The Disconnect Between Hospital Marketing and What Patients Need

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2012 | Andrew Schorr

A hospital's claims of highly rated care or state-of-the-art, multimillion dollar equipment may be only part of the equation for where you seek care.

What's Engagement Now? Expert Maulik Joshi Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 21, 2012 | Maulik Joshi

The participation of individuals and their caregivers in hospital care has taken on increasing importance for us in all our activities as we have come to realize how central those attitudes and behaviors are to the delivery of quality care.

How to Choose a Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 23, 2012 | Harriet Hall

I get a lot of inquiries about how to find a good doctor. I don't have a good answer. I thought it might be useful to throw out some ideas that have occurred to me and hope that readers will have better ideas and will share their experiences about what has or hasn't worked.

Why Can I Only Get Health Care from 9 to 5, M thru F?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 28, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

Last week, the waiting room of the out-patient cancer clinic looked like an airport lounge without the rolling suitcases. There were about 20 of us cancer survivor-types talking on our smartphones, fiddling with our iPads, reading The New York Times...What's wrong with this picture?

What's Engagement Now? Expert Janet Heinrich Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 4, 2012 | Janet Heinrich

Primary care is the entry point into health care for most people. It provides the continuity of care over the lifespan. From that standpoint, it is the most familiar, trusted experience people have with health care.

Guest Blog: The Trees of Maine

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 11, 2012 | Regina Holliday

I began painting at Maine Quality Counts Partnering with Patients: Finding the Bright Spots to Transform Care. The painting is entitled 'The Trees of Maine.'

A Second Opinion from Dr. Google

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 16, 2012 | Carolyn Thomas

I've often suspected that if only the E.R. doctor who misdiagnosed me with indigestion had bothered to just Google my cardiac symptoms (chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain radiating down my left arm), he and Dr. Google would have almost immediately hit upon my correct diagnosis.

What's Engagement Now? Expert Kalahn Taylor-Clark Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 18, 2012 | Kalahn Taylor Clark

I am interested in how public and private policy can make it possible for most people in this country to take good care of themselves.

More on'Patient Navigators and Talking to Your Pharmacist

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 20, 2012 | Conversation Continues

Two recent online posts build on topics we've explored on the Prepared Patient Forum previously. One on finding and using patient navigators/advocates, the other on making the most of your health care by working with your pharmacist.

Hospitals, Practice Administrators and Clinicians: You Gotta Learn to Love Patient Ratings

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 25, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

You are increasingly being held accountable for the outcomes of the health care you deliver. Pay for performance; shared savings in ACOs; public report cards'the list of strategies to monitor and measure the effects of your efforts is lengthening. Many of you seem dismayed by the increased weight accorded to the patient experience of care ratings embedded in most of these programs.

Guest Blog: Waiting Too Long for the Doctor? What to Do

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 1, 2012 | Barbara Bronson Gray

Waiting to see a physician is much, much different from waiting for an airplane or a bus'A friend recently asked me: Why do we have to wait so long for doctors and not for other professionals, like lawyers, accountants or dentists? And is there anything we can we do about it?

What's Engagement Now? Expert Sarah Greene Discusses Emerging Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 9, 2012 | Sarah Greene

I discovered somewhat by accident early in my career -- that science makes faster progress and produces better results if more people with a range of different expertise are brought together. In the past 10 years, I've extended this belief to patients' participation in their care.

Operating Theater: Magnificent New Hospitals Do Not Equal Quality Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 23, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

The pianist was playing Chopin in the beautiful but deserted four-story lobby of the new hospital where my father was being cared for. The contrast between that lovely lobby and the minimal attention my dad received over the weekend, combined with a report about the architectural 'whimsy" of a new hospital at Johns Hopkins make me cranky.

The Insidious Power of (d-i-s)-R-E-S-P-E-C-T

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 6, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

It's difficult to imagine that professionals working in a practice or department or unit where they are constrained by their own colleagues misbehavior are going to have the energy to invite us to learn about and share in decisions about our treatment...

How to Find a (Good) Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 22, 2012 | Conversation Continues

While the benefits of having (and keeping) a good physician may be evident, how do you find this just-right-for-you clinician?

Selling Dental Services Like Chevrolets

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 27, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

Mailers from a New York City dentist piqued my interest last week offering zero percent financing ' the same come-on that car manufacturers have used for years to entice you to buy Chevys and Toyotas.

"But You Don't Look Sick" and Other Silly Remarks

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 28, 2012 | Patient Perspectives

It can be offensive and hurtful when someone asks a well-meaning, but otherwise insensitive, question to someone who has an illness. Here, Kelly Young, Allison Blass and Andrew Schorr offer their responses.

Prepared Patient: Do I Have to Go to the Dentist? Oral Health Starts Early

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 28, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

Many of us have vivid memories of tying a thread to a loose tooth and wiggling it back and forth with our tongue all the time hoping for a profitable visit from the Tooth Fairy. Facebook is full of school and family photos of kids with cute, gap-toothed smiles. But increasingly, children are losing their baby teeth not due to the budding of their permanent teeth but to the ravages of early decay and cavities. There are a number of reasons kids and adults don't make it to the dentist regularly. For some parents, it's a lack of understanding about the importance of oral health, even at an early age.

Slow Leaks: Missed Opportunities to Encourage Our Engagement in Our Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 12, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

The gap between the demands placed on us by U.S. health care delivery and the ability of individuals even the most informed and engaged among us to meet those demands undermines the quality of our care, escalates its cost and diminishes its positive impact on our health.

Guest Blog: We Are All Doctors

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 26, 2012 | Donna Cryer

Well of course we are not all doctors. What a ludicrous statement. Just because I have changed a band-aid, taken a temperature, 'diagnosed' a headache and appropriately treated with an acetaminophen, and even clipped an in-grown toe-nail does not make me a healthcare professional.

My Doctor Gets 3 Stars? 2 Thumbs Up? B+?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 27, 2012 | Conversation Continues

Hospital and physician ratings and patient satisfaction scores are all inter-related. Do they provide useful, meaningful information-and will we use them?

Prepared Patient: Do You Need a Yearly Checkup? (Updated Version)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 3, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

We've all heard about well-baby visits, but if you're a healthy adult, you probably have no plan to see a doctor. When there's nothing to complain about, many of us go years without a comprehensive medical check-up, maybe to save money or time off from work or because we don't want to be lectured about our diet or exercise habits. But should we give up the time-honored tradition of the yearly physical?

The Lemon of Illness and the Demand for Lemonade – “The Open Mind” Interview

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 8, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

Richard Heffner, host of The Open Mind on PBS, interviewed me recently about what it’s like to be a patient in the midst of changes in health care delivery, advances in information technology and the implementation of new health policies.

Nordstrom and Amazon, Where Are You in Health Care Service?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 14, 2012 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

When it comes to customer service, retail stores, banks, airlines and hotels are tops. Health care? Not so good.

New Thinking and New Rules for Patient-Centeredness

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 21, 2012 | Michael Millenson

Fundamentally rethinking and refocusing on patient-centeredness is central to building a health care system that improves quality and controls cost. But patient-centeredness must permeate an organization from the 'exam room to the board room'.

Can You Really Choose the Best Hospital?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 28, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

After learning recently that I may need cataract surgery, it was time for me to check out the hospitals where that procedure might take place.

Are Patient Ratings a Good Guide to a Good Hospital?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 11, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

After writing about trying to choose the best hospital for my upcoming cataract surgery, I wondered if a few quality measures might offer a clue or two about how to better honcho some of my care, like the one that asks hospital patients if a nurse explained medications given to them. Since many ratings schemes rely on patient satisfaction data collected by the government, I decided to explore further.

A Year of Living Sickishly: A Patient Reflects

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 13, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

The essays collected here reflect on what it felt like as a patient with a serious illness, to cobble together a plan with my clinicians that works and to slog through the treatments in the hope that my cancer will be contained or cured and that I will be able to resume the interesting life I love.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Gail Hunt of the National Alliance for Caregiving

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 26, 2012 | Gail Hunt

Gail Hunt is president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving and serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Center for Aging Service Technology, the Governing Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and the CFAH Board of Trustees. This is the third in a series of interviews between CFAH President and Founder Jessie Gruman and patient and consumer group leaders about their experiences with and attitudes toward comparative effectiveness research.

What Patients Really Need to Know about Hospitals

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 27, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

If you want to know if restaurant food is safe, there's help. Just look at the signs in the window'?¦There are similar government inspection reports for hospitals, but you won't see them on the front door or any place else in the hospital, for that matter.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: John Santa of Consumer Reports

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 3, 2012 | John Santa

When Consumer Reports (CR) first saw the rising national emphasis on Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) three years ago, we were pleased: CER is what CR does. However, when it comes to health, we realized how difficult it is to do CER: CR would need to rely on good research done by others.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Venus Gines of Dia de la Mujer Latina

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 10, 2012 | Venus Ginés

As a patient advocate, it's always good to know what the best treatment options are for our patients. As we continue to see so much fraud in research, there is mistrust about validity of data and the research itself relative to particular at-risk communities.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Bill Vaughan of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 17, 2012 | Bill Vaughan

When you look at what can be done to save Medicare with this growing aging population, what do you do? One of most important things to do is to quit paying for things that don't work or don't work very well.

Dealing With Cancer

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 23, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

I was interviewed, along with several other cancer survivors, for the October issue of Washingtonian Magazine. "Dealing With Cancer" by Karina Giglio, offers advice on how to choose your doctors, what websites you can trust, how to help a friend with cancer and other resources to help you or a loved one get through treatment.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Maureen Corry of Childbirth Connection

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 24, 2012 | Maureen Corry

Despite availability, evidence doesn't always make its way into practice. If we could implement what we know now about safe and effective maternity care, we would see rapid improvements in the quality, outcomes, and value of care for women and babies.

Who's to Blame for Health Care Costs? Not Docs, Say Most U.S. Adults

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 25, 2012 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

When asked who's to blame for the rising cost of health care, consumers accuse insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, virtually tied for first place. These results aren't surprising given that past surveys have found consumers perceptions of 'Big Health' = Big Health Insurance + Big Pharma, down in the trust roster along with Big Oil, Big Tobacco, and Big Food.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Mary Andrus of Easter Seals

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 31, 2012 | Mary Andrus

Easter Seals sees CER as a real opportunity for good information about treatment choices. Wanting to always be person-centered, we hope CER can inform the choices of individuals and families made in consultation with their providers but that CER will not prescribe the treatment.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Arthur Levin of the Center for Medical Consumers

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 7, 2012 | Arthur Levin

We're trying to figure out if CER is just more of the same. Health policy has a love affair with old wine in new bottles, that is, rebranding old solutions with new acronyms. Because patient-centered care and engagement are fashionable at the moment, is PCOR merely a way to dress up CER to be more exciting and attractive (or palatable)?

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Perry Cohen of Parkinson Pipeline Project

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 14, 2012 | Perry Cohen

It would be nice to know if a treatment is totally worthless or that there are truly horrible side effects to a treatment or that a treatment really won't help slow the disease or relieve the symptom it's aimed at.

The Ten Worst Hospital Design Features: A Family Member's Perspective

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2012 | Val Jones

A few months ago, I spent 8 days in the hospital at the bedside of a loved one. Although I squirmed the whole way through a tenuous ICU course and brief stop-over in a step-down unit, it was good for me to be reminded of what it feels like to be a patient - or at least the family member of one - in the hospital.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Angela Ostrom of the Epilepsy Foundation of America®

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 29, 2012 | Angela Ostrom

Epilepsy is a complex disease. An optimal quality of life and seizure control for the person with epilepsy – so that they can be a fully productive member of society – is our goal. Our main concern about CER and our constituents is that one treatment may provide a high quality of life with seizure control and few side effects for many but not for all patients.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Richard Birkel of the Center for Healthy Aging & NCOA

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 5, 2012 | Richard Birkel

We believe that CER can be a valuable strategy to improve health care'?¦We are concerned, however, that older adults have often been excluded from clinical trials of drugs, medical devices and procedures.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: David Shern, Past President and CEO of Mental Health America

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 12, 2012 | David Shern

When we started focusing on CER, the big concern was the head-to-head trials of drugs and devices and the naive application of their findings to insurance reimbursement policies. Our ultimate fear was that access to medications would be restricted.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Joyce Dubow of AARP

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 19, 2012 | Joyce Dubow

We need to do better if we want people to have high-quality care that is provided in a way that is safe and makes the best use of scarce health care resources. CER that is relevant, timely and rigorous is fundamental to achieving these objectives.

Prepared Patient: Chronic Conditions: When Do You Call the Doctor?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 24, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

The signs are everywhere - prescriptions doled out into weekly reminder boxes, blood glucose monitors in a desk drawer, maybe even an adrenaline injection pen stashed in a diaper bag for allergy emergencies. From high cholesterol to HIV, millions of Americans have a medical condition that they manage mostly on their own.

Hospitals Under the Microscope: Another Way to Check Out Your Hospital

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 8, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

The nation'??s hospitals are now officially on notice that the federal government is looking closely at the kind of care they give'??so closely that Medicare will be giving them a financial bonus or a penalty depending on how well they do.

Medical Errors: Will We Act Up, Fight Back?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

We've been warned about the impending patient revolution. We will not be ignored. And we'll force meaningful change. After all, as the recent documentary How to Survive a Plague reminds us, the gay community and others mobilized themselves during the AIDS crisis to great effect. The same thing is possible today, right?

Medical Errors: Can Patients and Caregivers Spur Improvement?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 5, 2013 | Conversation Continues

A new report from Minnesota on medical errors shines a light on the fact that their frequency remains stubbornly high. Can patients and caregivers make a difference?

An Accidental Tourist Finds Her Way in the Dangerous Land of Serious Illness

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 6, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Health Affairs February issue, A New Era of Patient Engagement, selected my essay, An Accidental Tourist Finds Her Way in the Dangerous Land of Serious Illness, for its Narrative Matters piece. In the essay, I share experiences from my latest cancer diagnosis and call for policies to support patients and families with the increased responsibilities they face to find good health care and make the most of it.

Patient-Centered Care: It’s All in the Details

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 12, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Having had one eye surgery a few months ago, I knew what to look for. But my patient experience was much different this time and made me aware of how many places in the chain of care where mistakes can occur.

A Disconnect: What Hospitals Want You to Know vs. What You Should Know

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 19, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) is making hospital inspection reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services available at AHCJ’s new website www.Hospitalinspections.org. The site is not perfect, and there’s a lot of missing information, but still it provides some information about hospitals that has been lacking and offers a basis for asking questions.

What Do We Need Doctors For?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 21, 2013 | Elaine Schattner

Should nurse prac­ti­tioners, RNs, physician assis­tants, phar­ma­cists, social workers and others including, yes, peer patients, take up much — or even most, of doctors’ tasks?

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Louise Vetter, CEO of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 27, 2013 | Louise Vetter

There are 30,000 Americans alive today with symptoms of HD, and an additional 200,000 are at risk...Generally, we see CER as an important priority to inform clinician decision making.

Whatever Happened to Underuse of Medical Services?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 2, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Twelve years ago, in its landmark study Crossing the Quality Chasm, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that “the health care industry is plagued with overutilization of services, underutilization of services, and errors in health care practice.” In simple English, the IOM reported that health care was riddled with overuse, underuse and misuse of medical services.

Health Care Consumers Are Compromised By Complex Information

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 4, 2013 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

Americans have embraced their role as consumers in virtually every aspect of life: making travel plans, trading stock, developing photos, and purchasing goods like cars and washing machines. That is, in every aspect of life but health care.

Bad Language: Words One Patient Won't Use (and Hopes You Won't Either)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 24, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

When I read Trudy Lieberman’s post yesterday, I was reminded that the highly charged political debates about reforming American health care have provided tempting opportunities to rename the people who receive health services. But because the impetus for this change has been prompted by cost and quality concerns of health care payers, researchers and policy experts rather than emanating from us out of our own needs, some odd words have been called into service.

My Weekend as an Emergency Patient and What I Learned

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 13, 2013 | Anne Polta

If you want to see what health care is really like, there’s no better way than by becoming a patient yourself. To paraphrase the wisdom of Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the things you’ll learn!”

‘How’ Trumps ‘What’ in Patient Experience Success

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 4, 2013 | Jason Wolf

Since my last blog post where I stressed the need for our continued commitment to push the patient experience movement forward I have had a positive, life-changing experience. Early on Friday, April 19, as we were wrapping up Patient Experience Conference 2013, my wife called to let me know she was having contractions. "Nothing imminent," she calmly told me.

Looking for Meaning in a Meaningless Diagnosis

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 24, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas

It is indeed tempting – and common – to spout trite platitudes designed to somehow make people feel better about those bad things with bumper-sticker pop-psych. But can platitudes really lend meaning to a life-altering health crisis?

Choosing Hospitals Wisely (Is There Such a Thing?)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 11, 2013 | Leana Wen

Here’s a thought experiment presented a recent conference on healthcare consumer (ah hem, patient) advocacy. Let’s say that you’re told you need surgery of your knee. It’s an elective surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, the ACL. Your insurance covers part, but not all, of the cost. How do you choose which hospital to go to?

Googling for Doctors and Health Information

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 6, 2013 | Conversation Continues

Many people rely on the internet to look up health information or find a new doctor. However, navigating through the vast amount of resources and information online can be exhausting. Doctors Kevin Pho and Kenny Lin share some tips.

I Wish I’d Known Earlier...I Still Need a Primary Care Provider Since Most Headaches Aren’t Brain Tumors

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 14, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

My experience has taught me that once active treatment is over, regardless of my tendency to regard every lingering ache or pain as a recurrence, if I’m getting my survivorship care from my treating oncologist or other survivorship specialist, I have to find myself a primary care clinician who knows my health history. Why?

Privacy? Not in My Doctor's Office

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 5, 2013 | John Grohol

I’m not concerned about HIPAA. I’m concerned about how little my doctor cares for my privacy in his own office...I say my name, realizing that if someone is interested in identity theft, the check in process with the doctor’s front desk makes me a pretty easy target...

Patients Appreciate Good Front Office Staff

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 9, 2013 | Conversation Continues

Health centers' front office staff are important members of the care team. They greet us when we arrive, make extra efforts to schedule appointments that fit our schedule, direct us to the right person when we call, and work to squeeze us in for those same day appointments. At least we hope they do...

Still Demanding Medical Excellence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 15, 2013 | Michael Millenson

Digging through hundreds of studies, articles and other firsthand sources stretching back for decades, I was stunned to discover that repeated evidence of unsafe, ineffective, wasteful and downright random care had had no effect whatsoever on how doctors treated patients.

Adding Empathy to Medical School Requirements

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 18, 2013 | Inside Health Care

How can doctors understand what it's like to be ill? These stories illustrate the power of walking a mile in a patient's shoes.

We Can Do Better

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 22, 2013 | James Appleby

It's a scene that plays out daily in exam rooms across the country. The aging patient, accompanied by a caregiver, is seeing his or her physician and a discussion starts regarding the patient's memory.

Patient? Consumer? We Need a New Word

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 28, 2013 | Pat Mastors

In the world of health care, as in most enterprises where we must interact with one another for mutual benefit, we need words to describe one another. And the words we have for us people who use/need/want health care frankly don't cut the mustard.

My BlogTalkRadio Interview: Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 30, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Last week, I was interviewed by Dr. Pat Salber and Gregg Mastors on their BlogTalkRadio show, This Week in Health Innovation, about patient-centered care, patient engagement, shared decision making and the cost/quality trade-offs involved, and what all of this means for health care delivery.

The Great Canadian Experiment to House the Homeless

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 13, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

At Home/Chez Soi, a Canadian program for the mentally ill, is built on the concept that providing housing is the first order of business. An approach that reinforces the truism that good health is more than swallowing the latest wonder drug.

Medical Jargon: Do You Need a Translator?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 14, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas

A distressingly large number of people who have the letters M.D. after their names answer our health questions in such jargon-heavy ways that it makes our situation even more confusing. Time for a SMOG check – aka the "Simple Measure of Gobbledygook."

Do “Experts” Value Patient and Family Input?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 20, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Current efforts to make health care more "patient-centered" include inviting some of us to advise on research priorities, care organization and delivery under the assumption that, as patients, we understand what patient-centered outcomes and care are. What do patients know about the inner workings of health care, after all?

Fixing the Technological Fix

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 25, 2013 | Daniel Callahan

Perhaps like many of my age, I am not captivated by a number of much-touted technological innovations, increasing choices I don’t desire and fulfilling needs I didn’t realize I had. My nervous reaction to Personal Health System Technology is that of the distancing of patients from doctors, adding still another barrier between doctors and patients, and in the seductive name of their medical welfare.

What I Expect From the Medicare Program

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 16, 2013 | Jeff Goldsmith

After half a lifetime of following the Medicare program, on October 1, 2013, I became a Medicare beneficiary. I'm part of the leading edge of baby boomers joining the program, ten thousand a day. Here are some reflections upon joining...

A Report on Doctor Report Cards

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 17, 2013 | Carol Cronin

You've recently moved and need to find a new doctor. What's available online to help you learn about the quality of the doctors in your area?...

"We Are All Patients." No, You're Not.

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 19, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas

I read recently about a medical conference on breast reconstructive surgery following mastectomy, to which not one single Real Live Patient who had actually undergone breast reconstructive surgery following mastectomy was invited to participate...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 6): 10 Steps to Making a Doctor's Appointment

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 31, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

In part six of our series, you'll find out what key pieces of information you need to know about your new doctor's office. Keep it handy with your personal health records or household files...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 7): Get the Most Out of Your Appointment

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 1, 2014 | Be a Prepared Patient

In part seven of our series, we offer advice about how to make the most of your doctor's appointment. Here's what you should do before, during and after your visit...

Who Can Represent Patients?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 2, 2014 | Kate Lorig

Many years ago, Alfred Korzybski wrote that "the map is not the territory". This distinction has implications for the role of patients' voices in health care planning and policy...

Lack of Access Still to Blame

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 7, 2014 | CFAH Staff

What's the key to reducing costly emergency room visits and readmissions? People who lack convenient access to a health care provider, with or without insurance, return to the emergency department or hospital out of need and desperation...

What Does Team-Based Care Mean for Patients?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 8, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Team-based care has been endorsed by the professional organizations of our primary care clinicians, and there is a lot of activity directed toward making this the way most people receive their regular health care. What does this mean for us? It's not clear...

It's Time to Stop Blaming the Patient and Fix the Real Problem: Poor Physician-Patient Communication

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 14, 2014 | Stephen Wilkins

If hospitals, health plans and physicians expect patients to change their behavior, they themselves have to change the way they think about, communicate and relate to patients. As a first step, I suggest that they stop blaming patients for everything that's wrong with health care...

Welcome Shifts in Primary Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 23, 2014 | CFAH Staff

What exactly is primary care? There have been a number of news stories lately that point to shifts in its traditional definitions and in what patients can (or should) expect to receive from primary care providers...

Do Patients Care How Much Money Their Doctors Make?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 28, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

I am all for transparency when it comes to health care. So when Medicare announced a few weeks ago that it would begin to tell the public how much doctors are paid to treat Medicare patients, my first thought was "hooray." Still, I keep returning to the question: What will the data do for the average person?...

The Limits of Physician Referral in Finding a New Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 29, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

I've always assumed that the best way to find a new doctor or specialist – preferably within my health plan – was to rely on the advice of a doctor whom I know and trust, who knows my health history and understands what kind of expertise my condition requires. Recently, I have come to question that assumption...

Normal Care Hours Don't Work for Workers With Chronic Conditions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

It looks like an airport lounge without the rolling suitcases. There are about 20 of us fiddling with our phones or reading the newspaper, waiting to meet with our doctor for follow-up or monitoring visits. All of us are between the ages of 20 and 70 and all of us are dressed for success – or at least for our jobs. What's wrong with this picture? Why are employed adults spending a busy Wednesday morning waiting (and waiting) for our health care appointment when we should be working?

Engagement From Patients' Perspective: Different Than Docs, Employers, Health Plans

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 26, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

The Prepared Patient Blog published over two hundred articles in 2013 about what it takes for people to get the most from health care and how the system can be improved to make it feasible for us to do so. Here's a recap of what engagement looks like to us – whether we are sick or well, whether we are caregivers or loved ones: Engagement is not easy and we can't do it alone. Patient engagement is not the same as compliance. It is not a cost-cutting strategy, and it is not one-size-fits-all.

The Other 'F' Word

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2014 | Jackie Fox

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...

What Is Patient-Centered Medicine, Really?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 10, 2014 | Barbara Kivowitz

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?

Look Who's Coming Between You and Your Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 11, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

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?

Alzheimer's Stories That Matter

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 14, 2014 | Marie Marley

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...

My (Un)prepared Patient Story

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 19, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

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...

Working With Your Doctor's Office

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 2, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

It is common for those who work in and deliver health care to overestimate our knowledge about our bodies, our illnesses and how the health care system works. Such as: Who is the nurse practitioner? Where is Dr. X's office? When is "soon"? Why are you recommending this test? To help people find good health care and make the most of it, the following video explains two key things to ask when making your appointment and three questions to get answered before you leave your doctor's office...

Society of Behavioral Medicine Announces Inaugural 'Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 30, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Dedicated to promoting behavioral medicine research and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and populations, Society of Behavioral Medicine created this award to recognize an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.

What Is Dignity and Does It Matter to Patients?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 7, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

At a recent conference about patient engagement in health care, the word "dignity" was used over 50 times in the first 90 minutes, and I was left with a little pile of meaningless sound where I had expected to find something important. Since then, I have been on hyper-alert for "dignity"...

Pendulum Swings Between Personalized Care and Fixes That Benefit All

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 14, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

"All patients are alike. This one complains about the same things that the last one did." "Every patient is unique. We can never find a way to make each one of them happy." This public health paradox is alive and well today, particularly when trying to improve outcomes attributable to patient engagement. The question is, what aspects of care need to be customized to individual needs and what can be delivered in a standardized fashion to all of us?

A Doctor's Strategies Helped Mom Pay for Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2014 | Narine Wandrey

Bewildered, panicked and disheartened, I watched my mother's eyes dart back and forth as she read the pharmacy's prescription cash price list, knowing she could not possibly afford her monthly medicines. We drove home, not saying a word, but I knew she was deeply distraught. When we arrived, she began cutting each tiny elliptical or rounded tablet into halves and quarters...

Preventing Medical Harm: Alyssa's Story

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 29, 2014 | David Mayer

Carole Hemmelgarn is a hero. In the video that follows, Carole poignantly shares her daughter Alyssa's story, and why their family's loss has been the driving force behind the change Carole is fighting for: the delivery of safer care for all patients and families...

Entitlement: The Overlooked Dimension of Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 4, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

What does it means to be an "engaged" patient in the VA system today? It seems you have to know a senator who will intervene on your behalf, to give your health care a priority higher than his other constituents. This is deeply discomforting, and I hate that I am treated in a health care system where even those who are most accountable for the quality of the care it provides (the institutional leaders) can't trust the institution or the professionals who work there to routinely and uniformly deliver excellent care...

Ask Questions Before Surgery. You May Save Your Own Life.

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 9, 2014 | Heather Thiessen

I am wheeled into the operating room and walked to the bed. As I get to the table I am so cold and nervous, I begin to shake. I lay down on the operating table, thinking it seems very narrow and hoping I don't fall off. I hear one of the nurses say, "We have the Heparin ready for the new port." I freeze. I lift my head and say, "I'm allergic to Heparin." The anesthesia I've been given kicks in at that point and I drift off to sleep, hoping things go all right...

Patient Engagement: Here to Stay

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 1, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

What is patient engagement and what does it take to accomplish? With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CFAH set out to explore this concept as it was viewed by various diverse stakeholders. Our interviews with 35 key health care stakeholders lead to an impressive unity of opinion...

How to Pick a Primary Care Physician

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 7, 2014 | Reed Tuckson

As the former chief of medical affairs of UnitedHealth Group, I'm privileged to listen to the good people of this country talk about their health care. When it comes to choosing a doctor, do you know what I've learned? Most of us spend more time researching our next electronic gadget than researching our doctor. Except choosing the right doctor has significantly more impact on your life than any gadget...

Stop the War on the Emergency Room (Fix the System Failure)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 8, 2014 | Nick Dawson

The ED is convenient, it's open 24 hours, it does not require an appointment. So when the stomach bug or kitchen accident gets the best of you at 9:00 pm, and your doctor's office is closed, where are you going to go? And, yet, we still chide people – via reporting, casual comments and the communication of health systems – for using the ED for "non-emergent" needs. What I'd like to see is more hospitals flinging open the doors of their EDs and saying, "We'll take you, any time, for any reason, and you won't wait long or pay an arm and a leg"...

What Physicians Told Us About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 9, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"Being engaged in our health and health care makes the most difference to us as individuals. Our actions need to reflect our own goals, our values and preferences, and what we are willing and able to do to achieve them," says Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, Co-Founder and CEO of Iora Health.

What Community Health Leaders Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 23, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"When I think of patient engagement, I think of a partnership where people work together to figure out what the patient wants and how to support the process. Engagement is the knowledge base, working through the decisions and helping people to become full partners in their health outcomes." – June Simmons, MSW — Founding President and CEO, Partners in Care Foundation, San Fernando, CA

Facing a Serious Diagnosis? 'AfterShock' Now an App

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 31, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing is certain and the future looks dark. The new, free app 'AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis' offers a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks, providing concise information and trusted resources to help you regain a bit of control during this turbulent time...

What Employers and Purchaser Representatives Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 6, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"Employers have an opportunity to reduce barriers and support engagement because they sponsor health plans and can provide access to information, tools, technologies, incentives, and more. Employers have more ability to influence engagement than they often believe they have." – Michael Vittoria, Vice President, Corporate Benefits, MaineHealth, Portland, ME

Lessons From a Fallen Hero, Jessie Gruman

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 6, 2014 | Douglas Kamerow

"Jessie kept a laser focus on discovering and describing the process that she and many other patients with serious illnesses go through, so as to create useful tools and guidelines for all patients. She did it with admirable grace, humor, wit and wisdom." – Doug Kamerow, immediate past CFAH Board Chair, senior scholar at the Robert Graham Center for policy studies in primary care, and associate editor for The BMJ

The Most Important Quality in a Physician

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 11, 2014 | Val Jones

When you ask patients what quality is most important in a physician, they often answer "empathy." I think that's close, but not quite right. I know many "nice" and "supportive" doctors who have poor clinical judgment. When it comes to excellent care quality, one personality trait stands out to me – something that we don't spend much time thinking about...

Why I Fired My Doctor and What You Should Look for in Yours

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 25, 2014 | Donna Cryer

My new doctor and I clashed in every way. The short story is that I found another doctor who was a better fit for my "patient style." So what can you learn from my experience? First off, here are two questions you should ask yourself...

What Patients Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 27, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"There's a prevailing attitude on the side of clinicians that looking for and using [our own] information is not good behavior on our parts. I think that attitude is a big barrier; people don't want to be seen as troublemakers for asking too many questions, disagreeing with a clinician, or bringing information to the table." – Kelly Young – Patient Advocate, President of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, and Founder of Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior blog

The Use and Usefulness of Doctor Ratings

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 3, 2014 | CFAH Staff

What's the best way to choose a new doctor? We can ask friends, family, or our current doctor for a referral. We can pick the provider who's closest to our home or office. We can look them up online and read their reviews. But research finds that online physician ratings are far from perfect...

Seeing the Government's Star Ratings Is One Thing, Believing Them Is Another

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 9, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Just a few years ago it seemed that advocates for health care transparency had scored a big victory. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would rate nursing homes by awarding five stars to the best and fewer stars to lower-quality facilities. It turns out, though, that five-star nursing homes may not be delivering five-star quality...

What Health Care Consultants Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 10, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"At the end of the day, there is a growing recognition that we need people to take better care of themselves. Too much money is being spent on the consequences of unhealthy choices and on health care. We don't think that patient engagement is just the flavor of the week. The concept of how we can take more responsibility for our health and health care is not going away." – Janice Prochaska, PhD, President and CEO of Pro-Change Behavior Systems in South Kingstown, RI

A Preventable Medical Error Hits Home

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 16, 2014 | Darla Dernovsek

My 77-year-old parents were recently impacted by a medical error. The good news is that the story ends happily. The bad news is that it could have been averted simply by checking the date on lab tests...

Another Strategy in the Health Care Reimbursement Game

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 17, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

American health care has become a gigantic game board with players of all sorts strategizing to win. Winning, of course, means getting more money from payers...

'Be a Prepared Patient' Gets a New Look

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 1, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Finding good health care and making the most of it is critical for each of us. Yet all too often, reliable, unbiased information is hard to find and understand. On the redesigned Be a Prepared Patient website, we have collected trusted resources and tips to help people navigate their way through health and health care decisions and experiences...

Medical Errors: Will We Act Up, Fight Back?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 22, 2014 | Center for Advancing Health

A new report, "The Politics of Patient Harm: Medical Error and the Safest Congressional Districts," is an alarming reminder that the 200,000 or more preventable medical errors in U.S. hospitals remain stubbornly high and dangerously under-addressed. In early 2013, CFAH's founder and president, the late Jessie Gruman, challenged readers about the crisis: "It is needlessly killing a lot of people and those who have the responsibility to stop it have not made meaningful progress... Are you outraged? If not, why?"...

What to Do If the Doctor Just Shrugs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 27, 2014 | Bonnie Friedman

As patients we want an answer and a treatment – if not a cure – for what ails us. But sometimes the doctor doesn't know what's wrong, which isn't as rare as we might think. All too often, patients or their families must take charge of their own medical management. Doctors, after all, are human, and some are better diagnosticians than others. Here are some things to do if you or a loved one is struggling with an undiagnosed condition...

Is Having the Latest Technology the Sign of a Top Hospital?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 12, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

When choosing a hospital, pay little attention to advertisements, testimonials from sick patients, boosterish stories based on press releases, or wisdom-of-the-crowd comments you find on consumer rating websites. Look for reports that measure a hospital's quality – only these can offer clues to the kind of care you might get...

The Canadian Doctor Who Prescribes Income to Treat Poverty

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

The first blog post I wrote about a Canadian doctor who was "diagnosing poverty" received more than 3,000 hits. I wanted to circle back to see whether or not the program had taken root. Indeed it has. "It's been a wildfire effect," Dr. Gary Bloch told me. Why can't the U.S. follow suit?...

Reflections From a Midwest Hospital CEO

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 3, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

"People who teach about population health underscore relatively few important areas that are powerful determinants of health: eating, moving, sleeping, smoking and stress. Paying attention to these things can go a long way towards maximizing health and could dramatically reduce health care expenditures in the bargain. But it's hard to change behaviors, and cultural changes will only come slowly." – Dr. Todd Sorensen, CEO of Regional West Medical Center, Nebraska

Jessie Gruman Memorial Fund to Advance Patient Engagement Through New Center at the George Washington University Cancer Institute

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 15, 2014 | Center for Advancing Health

After over 20 years under the remarkable leadership of the late Jessie Gruman, the Center for Advancing Health is ending operations at the end of 2014. To expand on the CFAH body of work and enrich the growing interest in the field of patient engagement, the CFAH board of trustees has selected a proposal from George Washington University to establish the Center for Patient Engagement at the GW Cancer Institute. This gift was made possible by the generous contributions to the Jessie Gruman Memorial Fund.

When Facing a Serious Diagnosis, 'AfterShock' App Can Help

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 18, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing seems certain and the future may look dark. Since its release this summer, the free AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis app has provided users with a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks after a serious diagnosis, providing concise information and trusted resources to help regain a bit of control during this turbulent time. As one reviewer wrote, the AfterShock app is "a standard for empowered patients"...