September 13, 2011

Types of Patients – Part 2

I have covered patient, passive patient, and proactive patient in the previous blog. Now I will cover empowered patient, e-patient, and patient advocate.

Empowered patients are those patients that have done extensive learning and are more than a little knowledgeable about the disease or illness they have and often about related diseases. They communicate with other patients and constantly add and upgrade the knowledge they have. They sometimes do controlled experiments from the knowledge they have received and do determine what works for them. They communicate with their doctors and often teach their doctors about their disease. Doctors are generally not intimidated (but not always) by these patients because they communicate freely and have much valuable information.

Read this blog by Trisha Torrey about being an empowered patient. Then learn the eight steps you need to know to be an empowered patient. These are necessary for many, because this separates you from other patients. After reading these, many will think they are part of this patient group. This can be very good, but read carefully.

Some will say that empowered patients and e-patients are the same. I disagree because of some differences. Some follow a different set of eight points that need to be learned, and most e-patients are even more diligent in their learning. While all patients can and do participate in online communities about their disease, it is generally the empowered and e-patients that are able to teach more information to other patients. Read this blog for another eight steps that some participatory e-patients use. Yes, both eight step guides can be used by either an empowered or e-patient.

Now to really set the e-patient apart, go to this link and look at the very top of the page. There are three sections - the center is blog which is where you are. The right section is Journal of Participatory Medicine which is probably new to most of us, but is a valuable resource. While most of the participants are not people with diabetes, much can be learned from them. Now investigate the left section - the Society for Participatory Medicine. This is patient participation beyond anything I have considered previously and I keep learning more.

Now that we have looked at the types of patients, yes, each person can be involved in parts of proactive, empowered, and as an e-patient. The similarities are there, but there are also some important differences in what each patient does and accomplishes. Unless you have desires to become a person of the last patient type, be proud of any accomplishment in being a proactive, empowered, or e-patient.

Patient advocates can be patients, but that is not their purpose. They have taken classes and often passed exams to become qualified as a patient advocate. Most, but not all, have received a diploma or certificate showing that they have been trained and have the knowledge to be an advocate. Most doctors and hospitals will recognize them, but a few do not like the fact that they are now between them and the patient. A few will reject patients that have hired a patient advocate. More states are beginning to realize the necessity of setting up standards.

if you are a person that is going to be unable to communicate because of an operation or increased problems because of an illness or disease, a patient advocate is an excellent person to have one your side. Most are knowledgeable about medical costs and billing, legal and hospital assistance and many other services. This can be especially helpful if you live alone and have no close relatives to give any assistance. Read this blog by Trisha Torrey and if interested follow several of the links to other blogs.

If you have followed all the links, I think you will have learned a lot. This can help you decide at what level you wish to participate as a patient, or if you are comfortable where you are. Hopefully, some of you will see the opportunity to expand your horizons as a patient.

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