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A Difficult Pill to Swallow

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 17, 2014 | Brandon Kopper

I am a pharmacy student and was recently sent home with a prescription to treat a very painful earache. I do not recall the name of the medication, but I do remember my reaction when I went to pick it up. I was shocked that the drug would cost me over two hundred dollars! I could not afford the medication, so I went home without it...

Lying to the Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 10, 2014 | Anne Polta

Why are patients sometimes less than forthcoming? The top reason, according to a new survey, is fear of being lectured or feeling embarrassed. If doctors want their patients to be honest, they need to make an effort of their own to create a trusting, non-threatening environment that encourages patients to open up...

But... What Did the Patient Want?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 29, 2014 | Anne Polta

It's truly a dilemma for the doctor. The patient's test results are back and the news isn't good. But it's Friday afternoon and there's a decision to make: Call the patient now or wait until Monday?

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

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...

From Wonder Drug to Medical Reversal

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 19, 2014 | John Schumann

One thing seems to be sure in medicine: if we just wait long enough for excellent science to guide us ahead, things we trust as ironclad rules often change. Case in point...

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...

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

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?

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...

Common Bias Ignored: Patients and Families Lose

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

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...

Medication Adherence: Shift Focus From Patients to System

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 5, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

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...

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.

'Me' Versus 'We' in Obamacare

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 25, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

The Obama administration and Affordable Care Act supporters have not bothered to explain how the law includes cross-subsidization, missing an opportunity to talk about the "we" aspects of the law. As one 58-year-old woman put it: "The chances of me having a child at this age is zero. Why do I have to pay an additional $5,000 a year for coverage that I will never, ever need?" Here's how it works...

Is Your Doctor Paying Attention?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 13, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

The $800 bottle of meds in my bathroom cabinet is a powerfully expensive reminder of my (former) family physician's lapse in attention – and my own lapse in catching her error. She'd somehow accidentally doubled both the dosage and the number of times per day to take these meds. How is this even possible? Somebody is not paying attention...

N=1: My Experience With Cost, Care and Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 3, 2014 | Robert Fogerty

During my senior year in college, with medical school acceptance letter in hand, I was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer. Early in my treatment I received a letter that my health insurance had been exhausted and I would no longer receive any health benefits. Needless to say, this was a problem...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 3): Understanding Insurance Terms

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 25, 2013 | CFAH Staff

In part three of our series, we look at insurance terms that are used most often to describe or explain how much you’ll pay and what your benefits are. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources clarify these common phrases...

"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...

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?

Patient Engagement: On Meaning and Metrics

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 7, 2013 | Leslie Kernisan

What is patient engagement? Everyone agrees it's a good thing and that health care providers should be fostering it. How to do so, however, depends on what you believe the term means. I offer a new definition...

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 20, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

In this weeks health news: Group exercise alleviates college stress | Maintain your weight in a matter of minutes | Education may be the key to fighting obesity | Men who binge at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Finding Health Information You Can Trust

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 3, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

A survey conducted in September 2012 by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans had used the Internet in the past year to look for health information. Most of those people begin their search within a search engine like Google and end up with thousands of results. The hard part is figuring out which websites provide up-to-date and credible information.

What Do I Tweet – and Why?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 3, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Who would have thought that Twitter, this tiny aperture – a mere 140 characters – could connect me with so many smart, feisty, tough people who share, amplify, and improve on my efforts to spread carefully chosen health and health care content through their responses, retweets, modified tweets and acknowledgements? Here’s why I tweet what I tweet...

More Money, More Time: Will that Improve Physician-Patient Communications?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 8, 2012 | Stephen Wilkins

I don’t think so, and here’s why. I have yet to meet a physician who did not agree with the importance of effective physician-patient communication…in principle.

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.

Why You'll Listen to Me but Not to Your Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 25, 2012 | Carolyn Thomas

As I like to remind my women's heart health presentation audiences, I am not a physician. I'm not a nurse. I am merely a dull-witted heart attack survivor. I also warn them that a lot of what I'm about to say to them is already available out there, likely printed on some wrinkled-up Heart and Stroke Foundation brochure stuffed into the magazine rack at their doctor's office.

Minimally Disruptive Health Care: Treatment that Fits

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 26, 2012 | Marcus Escobedo

My mom has always worked hard'.Now on Medicare and about to retire after 30 years, she will have to continue working hard, as will my retired father. I'm not talking about the time they'll spend maintaining their home or raising grandchildren. I'm talking about the difficult work that they, like millions of others, grudgingly started as they began approaching 65 ' the work of managing their multiple chronic conditions.

What Should Go in a Social History?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 13, 2012 | Vineet Arora

As I am on service, I realized that one thing that can be easily lost in the race to take care of patients with limited duty hours ' the social history.

Guest Blog: Giving the Patient Bad News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 13, 2012 | Anne Polta

The patient, a young rodeo rider from rural Ohio, lies in a hospital bed, sick and in pain. The doctor has the results of his bone marrow biopsy and the news isn't good.

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.

Costs of Care...and Coercion?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 28, 2012 | John Schumann

Nora, a third year medical student, came to me in moral distress. Ms. DiFazio, one of the hospitalized patients on her Internal Medicine rotation, was frightened to undergo an invasive (and expensive) medical procedure: cardiac catheterization.

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.

The Formidable Complexity of Making (Some) Health Decisions: Book Review

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 28, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Can we have 'evidence-based' care and 'shared decision making'? Are they in concert or in competition with one another? Drs. Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman's new book, Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You, argues that a crash is indeed imminent.

Health News: Proceed With Caution

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 15, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Recent posts at Health News Review highlight how the over-simplification of medical journalism leads to misinformed, over-treated patients.

Guest Blog: Recovery and Healing

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 29, 2011 | Katherine Ellington

Medical student Katherine Ellington grapples with reconciling her two roles as daughter and doctor-in-training as her mother recovers from a heart procedure.

Guest Blog: Summer Palpitations

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 15, 2011 | Katherine Ellington

When her mom has a heart emergency, medical student Katherine Ellington learns first-hand how health statistics apply to real life. This is the first in a series of three posts.

Our Preference in Health News: Uncertainty or Naked Ladies?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 27, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

News of the World wasn't read by 15 percent of the British public because it told people what they should know. It got there by giving them what they wanted: stories about the peccadilloes of the rich and famous, accounts of the gross incompetence of government and of course, pictures of naked ladies.

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.

Learning About Public Participation

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 29, 2010 | Connie Davis

I've been spending time lately becoming more familiar with methods of public participation and the evidence behind participation. When I first moved to British Columbia, the government was sponsoring 'Conversations on Health' which I initially found exciting and innovative. That effort was designed to give the public a voice about health care in the province. I sent in my comments via the website and read about the public meetings being held throughout the province. I became a skeptic when I compared the data and original reports from the conversations and the conclusions. They didn't seem to match.