Could more proactive patients be the answer to all our health care problems?

Patient Advocacy

By pH health care professionals

The average patient faces many challenges coordinating his or her own care and treatment. For example, you may have to follow up on referrals to specialists, fill and manage medications, comply with physical therapy or other regimens, and shuttle records and data (like X-rays and test results) from one provider to the next. But … it’s not really working.

A 2015 survey found that 55 percent of patients said their medical history was missing or incomplete when they visited their doctor. A 2012 study estimated that patients with a chronic illness spent an average of two hours a day managing their health, which is often unsupported, stressful and frustrating.

The solution to the madness?

Proactive patients

A recent article in Harvard Business Review talks about the importance of giving patients a more active role in their health care, and this includes treating the role of patient more like a job (a satisfying job, at that).

Satisfying jobs, the article states, clearly define responsibilities, allowing for both autonomy and regular performance feedback. This empowers people to execute their given tasks with a sense of meaning and satisfaction, as they see the connection between their efforts and their outcomes. Currently, the job of the patient is rarely clearly defined or supported.

For example, patients should be charged with attending to preventive screenings and following their treatment plans at home. However, tasks like trying to compile all of their medical records and transferring health data from one provider to another should not fall under the patient's “job description.” Instead, these could easily be streamlined and solved with the right technology, the article points out.

Technology to save the day

Instead of running from office to office or dialing every doctor you’ve ever seen, imagine if your electronic health records and insurance data could all be aggregated into one portal. This would give both patients and doctors a more complete picture.

Technology can also simplify appointment requests and reminders. Some medical offices are using patient portal systems where you can simply put in your request and have it confirmed via email or text shortly after, or where you can easily access and download your records.

But while technology can help make life easier for many patients, there is still much work to be done. Some doctor’s offices may have portals for scheduling and records management, while others don’t. For most people, their entire medical history and records are not all in one place. This creates frustration and leaves patients feeling like they are not getting the amount of support necessary from their doctors to be proactive and get  the positive outcomes they’re hoping for.

So, is patient satisfaction on the horizon?

While patient satisfaction continues to be a hot topic in the health care world, many patients still aren’t quite feeling it. If this is you, you may benefit from a patient advocate. Read more about what patient advocates do here. If you are more advanced in age and feel like your health is being neglected, watch this short video here. And if your biggest frustration is disagreements with your doctor, you may want to read this article here.

Lastly, one way you can be a proactive patient is through education! Taking some time to educate yourself about your health, including healthy lifestyle choices and disease prevention or management, pays off in spades. And if you’ve tried everything and are still seeking answers, consider learning about how minerals impact common health conditions in our brand-new book, Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient. Be healthier from now on -- Stick with us.  

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.

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