September 12, 2011

Types of Patients – Part 1

In my research for another blog, I came across several terms I think need to be discussed. This is not a definitive list, but I think includes the bulk of patient types.

Passive patient
Proactive patient
     Above are covered in this blog
Empowered patient
Patient advocate
     The last three will be in the next blog

Looks simple enough on the surface, but when compared to each other, I have listed them in order of knowledge and sometimes education. That does not mean necessarily formal schooling as I have seen people without college degrees in each category. Many have more common sense knowledge and life experience knowledge than some medical professionals.

All of us have been patients. Everyone has to have been one at some time in their life, whether as a child or an adult. Another way of viewing patients is covered in my blog here, but I will let you read it later. This blog from May 10, 2011 on patient literacy and who is responsible for improving this shows that many in the medical community are ready for patients to step up. It is a shame that some physicians are taking a pass on what their associations are advocating.

Once you are a patient, then you normally decide what type of patient you want to be. Many people chose to listen and be led by their doctors and office staff and follow these people lock-step. As such they are making themselves passive patients. They seldom ask questions or disagree with what their doctor tells them. They seem to be disinterested in learning more about the disease or illness that brought them to their doctor.  If the doctor prescribes a pill or cure that heals them, that is all they are concerned about. If there is not a pill or cure, then they are at a loss and often seek out herbal medicine or quasi-medicine people promising a cure.

Proactive patients are people that attempt to learn all that they can about an illness or disease they have or are suffering from. They educate themselves by what ever method they can. Some utilize their local library, some get access to a medical library, and today, most use the internet to research and learn. Proactive patients attempt to ask knowledgeable questions of their doctors and other healthcare providers. They want to engage the doctors in their care, but may be ignored. These patients then may seek other doctors because they want knowledge and not being patronized or having fear thrown at them.

If they have doctors that answer questions and that talk with them to help them learn, they will try to expand their knowledge and work with this doctor to get the best care possible. Not that this will always be possible because of unforeseen circumstances, but they at least feel they have had the opportunity and are often more satisfied in the outcomes received. These patients are good people, but often overload their doctors with information that they are looking for help in deciphering some of the information.

Proactive patients often look to the next levels for aid and assistance for information they do not understand and to help sort out the relevant and helpful information. Where do I fit in this listing - I am not sure. I am a very proactive patient and am striving to become a more empowered patient, but I don't think I have fully reached this level yet.

I will continue the discussion of the last 3 patient types in part 2.

No comments: