The Book

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Too often, patients do not obtain the excellent care they need and deserve. Frequently, health professionals’ best efforts are wasted through misunderstandings between them and their patients. This unique guide is designed to help patients and families in the United States gain the greatest benefit from the health care they receive.

The simple key to better use of health services is … communication. Through good communication, we as patients can relate successfully to physicians, other health care providers, and health organizations. By using communication skills, we can make sure they respond helpfully to our concerns and problems. Good communication tools also help us organize our thoughts, protect our rights, and promote our health.

Most attempts to improve patient-physician communication are addressed just to physicians. These efforts have not been widely accepted by physicians and don’t directly help patients.

Some advocates call on patients to challenge their physicians more, by asking questions and demanding answers. This advice fails to account for patients’ vulnerable position. The advice focuses on confrontation with physicians, rather than partnership.

What’s needed is an easy method to equip patients and families—regardless of education, personality, or medical condition—to communicate effectively with their physicians and other health professionals. This guide offers a practical way for patients and families to vastly improve communication—and, in this way, to become equal and effective partners in their health care.

Interested? You can learn more by downloading the following sections from the guide for free. Just click on the link.

  • View/download a free Overview, which gives you a broad understanding of the guide.
  • View/download a free How to Use This Guide section.
  • View/download the free Table of Contents.
  • View/download the free Doctor List, which will help you keep in one place key information about all of the doctors and other health professionals you see regularly.
  • View/download the free Drug Registry, which you can use to save the important information about all of the drugs you take.
  • View/download the free Problem Record you can use to detail many of your current health problems in one place.
  • View and/or download the free guide to Presenting a Problem to a Physician.

Need help navigating the health care system? You can purchase the complete guide or just buy sections you find relevant to your current situation.

How to Make the Health Care System Work for You!

The complete guide contains all of the sections above plus the sections below in one comprehensive publication.

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Sections 2 and 3: Finding the Right Doctor and Following the Doctor’s Advice-Or Not

Many people are fortunate to have a great team of physicians and other health professionals and to obtain excellent referrals when necessary.  The rest of us may have to work from time to time to find a doctor we trust highly.  Section 2 offers tools for doing that. How can we get advice (what used to be called “doctor’s orders”) that’s truly practical and fits our lifestyle and values?  Section 3 will help you obtain the kind of medical advice you want and will actually follow.  The section also contains hints about questioning a physician’s diagnosis—the usual basis of medical advice.

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Sections 4 and 5: Doing Your Own Research and Deciding on the Right Treatment
Increasingly, patients and families are spending time learning about diseases and treatments, rather than relying solely on physicians for information.  If you choose to do research, section 4 may save you time, protect you from false starts, and help you organize and use the fruits of your labor. Few treatments are right for everyone with a particular health problem or disease.  The decision of what treatment is right for you will depend on your other health problems, lifestyle, values, opportunities, and environment.  The multi-step, “map-drawing” section 5 will help you work with your physician and health care team to choose the best course of treatment.

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Section 6: Making a Living Will and Proxy
We’re all mortal, and we have the right to decide the type of care we receive when we become terminally ill.  This section will help you secure the care you want at the end of life, or if you lose the ability to participate in decisions about your care.

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Section 7: Bringing a Friend With You to the Doctor
Many patients are joined by a family member or other companion when they visit the doctor’s office.  What is the ideal role of this friend, and how can he or she best perform it?  This section shows how the presence of a friend can enhance a physician visit.

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Section 8: Complaining to Your Doctor
Most people see a lot of doctors during their life, so not all these visits and relationships always go smoothly.  This section suggests how to bring an unpleasant matter to the attention of a physician or other person in authority.

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Section 9: Following Up on a Visit to the Doctor
Your own follow-up actions will help you get the greatest advantage from your visit.  This section contains a checklist of post-visit steps for you to take as appropriate.

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Section 10: Appealing an Insurance Denial
Sometimes it may be worth spending the time to appeal a decision by an insurance company denying payment for a medical procedure, hospital stay, or other type of care.  This section walks you through the complicated process of insurance appeals.

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Section 11: Advocating for Another Patient
You may be placed in a situation of advocating for a family member, or other person, who needs help in improving the care he or she is receiving.  This section contains suggestions for defining the problem in care, identifying barriers to a solution, and creating a solution.

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Purchase Section 12: Protecting Your Privacy in All its Forms
Federal and state laws protect patients’ privacy of information, person, and decision-making.  This section addresses these areas and contains relevant information on many privacy-related areas: genetic test results, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and other reportable diseases, hospital visitors, infection control, mental health, family violence, organ donation, autopsies, refusals of treatment or vaccination, reproductive and sexual health, medical marijuana, and inmate health care.

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2 Responses to The Book

  1. Trish says:

    Tsk-tsk, Neil, for slighting veterinarians. The best veterinarians are expert communicators. They need to elicit information from pet owners (clients) regarding their beloved pets (patients). The clients bring their own issues, personalities and other concerns to the exam room, sometimes providing clues for diagnosis but sometimes not. In speaking with a veterinarian about his work, much of the job–and the reward–is communicating with clients.

  2. New Associates says:

    Great point, Trish! In short, effective communication is essential to all forms of health care!

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