The New Healthcare Reform – Is Patient Reform

While Congress continues its monkey shines, American patients are continuing to get substandard, too-expensive healthcare, or no healthcare at all.  We are getting sicker, and dying, because we can’t get decent care.

However, if you think this post is going to be a call to action for Congress – think again.  While I am a firm believer in healthcare reform, and while I firmly believe we Americans deserve universal care – I also know that if you are already sick, or if you get sick today or tomorrow, or even next year, then healthcare reform isn’t going to help you anyway.

The one BIG benefit to all this healthcare legislative brouhaha, no matter what the outcome so far, is that it has forced us patients to realize that Marcus Welby has left the building.  The paternalistic, omnipotent doctor-as-God who actually cared about our medical outcomes has become an endangered species — one most of us will never meet in our lifetimes. Healthcare reform discussions have made this very clear:  American healthcare is not about health or care.  It’s about sickness and money.

So what have we learned?

That in order to get the good, decent care we patients deserve, we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands. Yes — US.  WE PATIENTS are going to have to do it for ourselves. We need to be EMPATIENTS (empowered patients.)  It’s a shift in mindset that those among us who are smarter and more attentive are realizing isn’t a choice.  If we want decent medical care in the United States (or, it seems, in most countries of the world) — we must make this shift in our thinking.

I hear people poo-pooing the use of the term “empowered.”  They don’t like it because to them, it suggests that someone must GIVE us power.

I don’t see it that way.  I see “empowered” as something we take on ourselves.  We take command of our care.  We take responsibility for acquiring the information we need, then making decisions for ourselves. We do that with a variety of resources, including physicians, other patients, and media information sources like the Internet, libaries and others.

If you think about it — that’s an entirely different way of accessing healthcare than most of us are used to.  It says that, in effect, we will no longer allow healthcare to be done TO us or FOR us.  Instead we will demand it be done WITH us.

That means it’s a whole new type of healthcare reform.
In fact, it’s PATIENT REFORM.

Are you ready to take up that cause for yourself and your loved ones?  There’s no argument over money here… it’s simply a recognition that if we are going to get the health and medical care we want and deserve, we are going to have to make it happen ourselves. It’s an approach to getting the right diagnosis, the right treatment, staying safe, and making sure you don’t lose your health because you can’t afford to access care.  It’s collaborative, research based, and helps us advocate for ourselves.

Here are some places to begin:

•  What’s an Empowered Patient? (or anything at the Patient Empowerment site.)

•  You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Health Care You Deserve)

• (e-patients and emPatients describe the same thing – e-patients does not mean you need to understand electronic media.)

•  The Society for Participatory Medicine

These resources link to the dozens of other resources you’ll need, too.

Yes — this is it.  The beginnings of PATIENT REFORM.  Let those in Congress, the ones who have cadillac healthcare plans and don’t really understand what the rest of us deal with continue their bickering and corporate *ss-covering.  Let them continue to kow-tow to special interests who are more about making sure they keep their corners of the healthcare money pie, with little or no regard for patient outcomes.

I declare 2010 to be the Year of the EmPatient! Empowered, participatory — finding far better outcomes than we ever could by depending on Congress or someone else to — maybe — help us out.

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2 thoughts on “The New Healthcare Reform – Is Patient Reform”

  1. Make it a decade of empowerment, not just a year. (Lifetime?) Agree that one of the most critical assets a patient and family brings to the table is an informed and spirited advocacy of his own health. Bring along some skepticism also.

  2. Hi Trisha,
    Wonderful post. I’m sure however that you realize that our (doctors’) and your (patients’) desires and goals are mostly aligned. As far as money goes, doctors just want to work for fair value. Of course, “fair value” is different for everyone. But that’s not my point. We would like to come to work and just care for patients. But that’s not reality in our bureaucratic world. If we turn around, another administrator is figuring out a way to “cost-cut.” So we end up with family docs who see 3000 patients a year, before quitting their practices entirely to go “Concierge,” where they see only 300. What happens to the other 2700? They go right into the system and hopefully find another over-worked primary care doc.

    Obviously, something’s gotta give and you hit the nail on the head. A family doc said just yesterday to me that he thinks the next move will come from patients who have gotten fed up with all of the federal intervention and will stand up and shout their displeasure. I think that’s a reasonable thing for a very large and important part of our health care system. We all are patients at one time or another. So we have to ensure that we all continue to get fairly cared for and can access that care when needed.

    Thanks for being an advocate. I think your blog is very interesting!

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Trisha Torrey
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