March 29, 2013

Engaged Patients Vs Patient Activation

What I don't appreciate is people in the medical profession that constantly hang tags on me as a patient. I'm sure you have heard some of them – non-compliant, non-adherent, and others. We as patients are supposed to treat medical professionals with respect when they won't respect us. This blog is slightly different, the title may have been changed on them to make it sound more appealing, and this adds to the confusion and makes the issue more complex.

In this blog, the authors use several terms to describe us. They start out using the term patients, then change to call us assets. Then they go off the beam and call us “patient activation” as measured by the Patient Activation Measure. This is one of the measurements that they take of us so they can decide if we are compliant or non-compliant. The more activated we are the more compliant we become.

Then they really insult patients by saying, “Patients, like swimming students, are starting at different levels. Yet in health care, we tend to throw everyone into the deep end of the pool and assume they can swim.” Yet these medical professionals won't do anything to educate their patients or give them help in learning. This could do wonders to help the patient want to learn, if they knew the medical professional really cared enough to help.

What level of help is required? I don't think they even know, or care, as like they say, throw them in the deep end and see if they can swim. Then when patients come back with questions they have, these same medical professional get angry because they don't think the patients have used reliable sources for information. Yes, I can agree with their anger when a patient brings in reams of paper with questions on several topics that require the medical professional to do reading during the appointment.

My question is, when are these medical professionals going to learn that if you give patients information, like a list of URLs for good internet sources and a brief description of the topic, most patients will appreciate this and if they are computer literate, they will learn. Granted this would mean that the medical professionals would be required to ask some questions, but the rewards would be more activated patients. Will this happen, I sincerely doubt it as I have asked several doctors to provide some URLs, but to date, I have not seen any. I even asked them to use my email address to send them to me. Nothing. Then the third time, I took in several URLs I knew were reliable, and asked for the URLs to be checked out. Still nothing. This would require them to do something they can't bill for, therefore, this is why I doubt very seriously any medical professional will do any education or even give out a list of reliable internet sources to patients who would like to have this list to help them become better, more activated patients.

Therefore, I will not even discuss terms we as patients would find more acceptable, like proactive, empowered, or others, because the majority of medical professions don't give a damn, don't want to deal with these types of patients, and unlike these authors are advocating, it ain't gonna happen unless the medical professionals can bill for it. For them their time is too valuable now to do anything that might yield greater returns in the future.

They just don't see the tsunami coming with the Affordable Care Act and the implications for them.

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