Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taking charge of your health

In December of last year I wrote an article stating that each of us should become a medical advocate for our own health.


This week I stumbled upon two TED - “Ideas worth sharing” videos  that do a fine job of explaining how to do this and how the medical industry can help.

The first 16 minute video is a personal story about how a person with terminal cancer became an advocate and an e-patient.

Dave deBronkart: Meet e-Patient Dave

When Dave deBronkart learned he had a rare and terminal cancer, he turned to a group of fellow patients online -- and found the medical treatment that saved his life. Now he calls on all patients to talk with one another, know their own health data, and make health care better one e-Patient at a time.

The second 16 minute video explains how medical information should be designed and distributed in a way that anyone can understand it and know what to do because of it.

Thomas Goetz: It's time to redesign medical data

Your medical chart: it's hard to access, impossible to read -- and full of information that could make you healthier if you just knew how to use it. Thomas Goetz looks at medical data, making a bold call to redesign it and get more insight from it.

In this second video, Mr. Goetz says you should ask four questions when you visit your doctor.


Every Patient Should Ask

      1. Can I have a copy of my results?
      2. What does this mean?
      3. What are my options?
      4. What next?

advocate cartoon

I found the examples used in the presentation enlightening.  If my personal medical information was provided in this way, it would be so much easier to understand:
  • What the warning signals are
  • What my current condition is
  • What I can do about it. 
I also loved the comment that many doctors probably don’t totally understand what some of the blood test results actually mean without doing some additional research.

Fortunately, I find my doctor to be receptive to my inquiries.  He provides a good explanations of what is happening.  And, he suggests a course of action, but leaves the decision up to me.

Are you ready to become your own advocate?

The first step, of course, is to decide that you are going to:
  • learn more about your health issues/concerns
  • ask more questions
  • understand what you are being told
    • and, if you don’t, probe more until you do eventually understand
You owe it to yourself to become your own medical advocate.  And, you need to be part of the decision-making process when it comes to your own health.

It is never to late to become the

“educated patient”


P.S.  On a totally different subject, take eight minutes and watch this amazing demonstration of a robotic bird.  It is amazing.

A robot that flies like a bird

Plenty of robots can fly -- but none can fly like a real bird. That is, until Markus Fischer and his team at Festo built SmartBird, a large, lightweight robot, modeled on a seagull, that flies by flapping its wings.

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