Get More From Your Healthcare Provider

By Michelle Lowes, MD PhD EmpowerMyHealth helping people make informed decisions in health and illness In my last post I laid out a problem: medical and health information is complicated and scattered, making it difficult to navigate the medical world. Yet, we’ve been hearing more about “patient involvement” in health care. What does this really mean? Probably different things to different people. I recently read Shannon Brownlee’s very interesting book Overtreated, which contains useful lists for the navigation process, summarized here: 1.  Find a primary health care provider that you can talk to. This is so important. Find someone you can communicate with and who can coordinate your care. Even if you change insurance, stick with them if you can. 2. Ask questions. It can be really hard to ask questions of your healthcare provider, and the more expert they are, the harder it can be to talk to them. You may need to make a separate appointment to have this conversation, but when it happens, take notes or record the it so you can get all of the important information.  It’s hard to simply remember everything! You may not have to make decisions during your appointment. You might be

On the Doctor-Patient Disconnect

By Michelle Lowes, MD PhD EmpowerMyHealth helping people make informed decisions in health and illness So you’ve been feeling unwell for a while, and you finally go to your doctor, who listens to your symptoms, does a physical exam and then says, “let’s do some tests.”  She doesn’t give you any idea what your aches and pains might be, but says, “call me for the results in a few days.” Nervously, you call back and speak to the receptionist, who tells you the doctor is busy and will call you back later that day. You wait for the call, which comes when you are in the middle of a meeting, so you can’t pick up. You call back again. When you finally stop playing phone tag, your doctor tells you, “Well, the lab tests are in, you have panosis [1]."  She starts to tell you what panosis is and how it’s treated, and she will call in a prescription at your local pharmacy. However, you are still trying to digest that you have panosis, and you are really not listening at all. You say “thanks” and hang up, bewildered, scared, anxious. You immediately google panosis, and check out the online