The patient as CEO of their care
Healthcare think-tanks like to talk about patient engagement and patient empowerment, and for good reason.
For one thing, patients are sometimes the only people who are in a position to notice that a drug wasn’t dosed correctly or a test wasn’t the right one. If a hospital or doctor misses a med allergy, the patient could be the only one who stands between him or her and a potentially fatal encounter. And longer term, engaged patients find solutions that get them well.
Such patients aren’t always a joy to work with, perhaps. But the reality is, even if a patient seems to complain a lot or asks “too many” questions, they’re doing the right thing. Ideally, patients consider themselves to be responsible for the outcome of their care, at least when they’re well enough to speak up. Effectively, they’re the CEO of their own care, taking in inputs from well-qualified professionals but ultimately making their own decisions.
Unfortunately, providers can take an assertive patient who’s fighting to engage in smart self-care and make them feel small. Cranking out sarcastic or patronizing remarks, ignoring or under-responding to a patient’s requests for information or unfairly minimizing their worries can be a gut punch to patients who want to take an appropriate level of control.
But doing so is quite counterproductive. We DO want patients engaged and we DO want them asking questions. We want them to be confident enough to live a healthy life regardless of what that requires of them. Want them to maintain that confidence? Encourage it!
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