Other Patient-friendly Sites

November 10, 2010

Since you managed to find us, chances are you know of other patient-oriented websites and blogs.  I’m very interested in hearing about your experiences as a web-using patient.  Here are some sites that I recommend.

The National Institute on Aging website has an excellent section, called “Talking with Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People.” The philosophy pretty much parallels what you find here and in our book–maybe with a little less detail, less reference to recent findings in the literature, and more tips geared to older patients, such as the suggestion to take your eyeglasses and hearing aid on your appointment.

smiling woman at a computer

Improved Method of Entering Patient Data

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)–which soon could become a major part of the Department of Health and Human Services, equal to the FDA, NIH, or CDC, or could instead become a victim of partisan budget wrangling–promotes an approach to patient-centered care called CAHPS.  That’s short for “Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems.” The main idea is to use surveys of patients’ experiences to rate health care providers.  Check it out.  (Also see AHRQ’s quick tips.)

You know that major diseases have diverse websites and online discussion groups.  A good example is that of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  One site that many people appear to find very useful is that of the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR).  Patient advocates with an interest in cancer care speak highly of it.   Similarly, Caring Bridge is geared to helping patients and families, especially those affected by cancer.

Those of us who took part in tobacco control efforts learned to appreciate the activities of the American Cancer Society, as well as the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why to Treat Your Doctor as a Person: 10 Tips

November 3, 2010

Several of our posts–and our book–assert that patients benefit by interacting cordially with their physician or other health professional.

Our general advice is to strike a balance between insensitivity and meekness.  For example, Section 8 of our book (the section on “Complaining to Your Doctor”) says:  “If you don’t express your feelings, you might start to tune out your physician, and you might stop working as an equal partner in your own health care.”

photo of a handsome, kind-looking physician in scrubsNew evidence, involving a surprising group of doctors, supports the idea that physicians are susceptible to the same pressures as the rest of us.  US News and World Report and HealthDay News summarize a study of 7,900 surgeons-a group sometimes thought of as typically machine-like and impersonal.  The study found that large percentages of surgeons are burnt out and depressed.

Conducted by Charles M. Balch and colleagues, the study appears in the November issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.   The longer the hours worked by the surgeon, the more likely he or she is to meet the criteria for burnout and depression.  Accordingly, the burnout rate is 30 percent for surgeons who work less than 60 hours per week, 44 percent for those who work 60-80 hours, and 50 percent for those who work more than 80 hours.  (Yes, those are common work weeks for physicians.)

Burnout consists of such sentiments and reactions as feeling run-down and drained of physical and emotional energy, being prone to negative thinking about one’s job, being irritable, and feeling misunderstood.

A doctor who is prey to feelings like that is not going to respond well to a patient who appears confrontational, demanding, unsympathetic, or inconsiderate.  Fuhgeddabahdit.

Instead, try to get your doctor to view you in a positive light and drive those negative thoughts right out of his or her mind!  Here are ten tips: Read the rest of this entry »