For many, these issues have been barriers to quality medical care for decades, and they are likely to worsen as the insured patient population and doctor shortage increase. And while the increasing use of electronic means of communicating is considered a time saver, it dilutes or eliminates that personal touch and the storied “good bedside manner.”
We also know that, as in many areas of our society, the medical arena is fraught with ingrained biases and assumptions – ageism, racism, classism and gender issues- which interfere with the delivery of equal and quality medical care for all.
These are just a few reasons why you, the health care consumer, must not only demand that your medical encounters remain personal, but you must learn how to optimize your medical experience to get the health care you deserve. Focus On YOUR BEST HEALTH presents practical solutions to many of these concerns and guides you through the medical maze.
Under the best of circumstances communication is complicated. Add to that communication barriers due to language differences, cultural differences and just plain miscommunication, and you have a perfect storm for confusion, misunderstanding, and in some instances disaster. In the medical setting, communication fails are not only unacceptable, but they are the major cause of life-threatening medical errors.
In our current hurried health care system, where doctors must see patients every 12-15 minutes on average, it is not surprising that we are witnessing more and more non-adherence by patients. Research has shown that patients are more likely to follow a medical management plan, if they understand the medical information, if health care practitioners demonstrate empathy, if they are encouraged to express their concerns, fears, and expectations, and if they are given ample time to tell their medical story.
Despite the advances in modern medicine and health care delivery, consumers still have some very basic, unanswered concerns, making them feel isolated, mistrustful, and confused. It is for these very reasons that my co-author, Glenda F. Newell, M.D., and I felt compelled to write Focus On YOUR BEST HEALTH: Smart Guide To The Health Care You Deserve.
As physicians, we know that we can do better to ensure more effective and rewarding patient-doctor relationships, but we also know that you, the health care consumer, must do better. Your health and the health of your family depend on it.
Whether your medical encounters are routine or urgent, we believe that you must be educated about your health care needs, fully engaged in order to be an active participant in medical decision-making, and empowered to take charge of your health. Focus On YOUR BEST HEALTH will serve as a survival tool to help you navigate your medical maze.
By: Glenda F. Newell, M.D., Brenda B. Spriggs, M.D. MPH MBA