In honor of Nurse’s week which was Sunday, May 6 to Saturday, May 12, I want to discuss the importance of empowered patients.
As a Registered Nurse, I pride myself on advocating for patients, but too empowering them is just as important as well. When I discuss empowered patients, I mean it in terms of an action word, to empower, which according to Merriam-Webster, is to give power to (someone).
The United States has a complex health care system and it is difficult to navigate – this is one of the tasks an Aging Life Care Professional® helps with. In order to navigate the complex health care system patients and families must be empowered. The key to patient empowerment is information and education. Francis Bacon said it best and it is true “Knowledge is power.”
Patient empowerment is emerging as a new paradigm in the health care system, but for Nurses, I’d have to say it has been around for some time. Patient empowerment can help improve outcomes while lowering costs of care as well as promote safety. Furthermore, patient empowerment is definitely key in the management of chronic diseases, such as Diabetes, Heart Failure, and so on. This is true because the more a patient and family has power and recognizes their power, the more they are willing to control and manage their own conditions.
Another key is patients must know their rights and responsibilities to get the care they need. One right could be, knowing you can chose your own doctors - or as some of my patients like to say, "hire and fire" them - until you find the one that you connect with best.
Other keys or tips:
(1) Be prepared for your appointments - Write out your questions, how you are doing, current symptoms, current medication regimen, and your diet if your medical problem is diet related.
(2) Ask for explanation in normal/non-medical/laymen’s terms, not in medical jargon.
(3) Before the visit is over, make sure you know what is going to happen next and why.
(4) If testing is ordered, ask what the doctor wants to learn from the test and how the results may change the approach to treatment. If the doctor cannot provide a clear answer, ask if the test is really necessary.
(5) If medication is ordered, understand the benefits and risks, how long you will be on the medication, and what are the alternatives to the medication being prescribed.
(6) Ask what you can do to improve the situation.
All in all, as an Aging Life Care Professional® and a Registered Nurse, I empower patients so that they can get the Right Diagnosis, buy the most affordable medications, get what you deserve through your insurance company, and get the best, quality, and safest medical care - every time.
As I say to all my patients and families - "We are in this together" - because - When "I" is Replaced by "We"...even "Illness" Becomes "Wellness".
Thank you for sharing – sharing is caring, send to someone you know needs this information.