How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit

jessie-gruman picI recently wrote about how common it is for those who work in and deliver health care – physicians, nurses, clinics and hospitals – to overestimate our knowledge about our bodies, our illnesses and how the health care system works. This overestimation of our familiarity happens with even the most seemingly simple and straightforward aspects of care, such as: Who is the nurse practitioner? Where is Dr. X’s office? When is “soon”? Why are you recommending this test?

To help people find good health care and make the most of it, CFAH has created a library of Be a Prepared Patient tips and resources including two videos. The two-minute video below shares tips for How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit by explaining how to effectively describe your symptoms in four key steps. Being prepared with this information will allow you and your doctor to discuss the best treatment for you, including next steps. (more…)

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Where Fashion and Health Intersect

Anita-Dolce-VitaPeople often look perplexed when I mention that I am a Clinical Research Nurse by day and a fashion blogger by night.  Some find it peculiar, if not interesting, that I am passionate about and committed to two fields that most people consider completely unrelated. However, fashion and health care do intersect, and at this intersection exists opportunities to improve health and wellness.

Studies have revealed that patients judge their health care providers based on the way their providers dress. It is not incredibly surprising that patients have greater trust and confidence in providers who are neat and professional in appearance, with preference given to starched white lab coats, business attire (e.g., neckties and suit jackets), and scrubs. So, what does this mean for providers and patients with respect to health and wellness? Well, the provider’s style of dress can impact the provider’s credibility and patient mistrust could lead to poor treatment adherence and low patient self-disclosure.  (more…)

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  • October 7th, 2013 Today’s Government Shutdown: No Paradise
    By Glenna Crooks
  • The Consumer’s Ongoing Dilemma: Making Sense of Hospital Prices

    Trudy LiebermanRecently the Washington Post’s health policy columnist Sarah Kliff waded into the muddy waters of hospital disclosures. Kliff had heard that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory had signed legislation requiring the state’s hospitals to publish the rates for the services they’ve negotiated with insurance companies.

    That indeed would be a big step and builds on Medicare’s release earlier this year of what hospitals charge the government to treat Medicare beneficiaries. Surprise, surprise! The data show huge differences among hospitals even in the same city, a phenomenon well documented in the academic literature. (more…)

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    An Interview with Jessie Gruman: A patient, health care reformer, and the recipient of caregiving

    Jessie GrumanJessie Gruman is president and founder of the Center for Advancing Health (CFAH), a nonprofit, Washington-based policy organization which, since 1992, has been supported by foundations and individuals. CFAH works to support people’s engagement in their health and health care. Prior to founding CFAH, Gruman worked on these concerns in the private sector (AT&T), the public sector (National Cancer Institute) and the voluntary health sector (the national office of the American Cancer Society). DW talked with Gruman recently about her work and her perspectives on her role as a patient, health care reformer, and the recipient of caregiving. (more…)

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    Should Health Care be Considered a Right? A Look at the Role of Health Care in the Civil Rights Movement

    Danielle Brooks

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”- United States Declaration of Independence, 1776

    This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “- I Have a Dream,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

    The quotes listed above reference two of the most important moments in American history, moments which represent freedom: the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Civil Rights movement nearly 200 years later. Yesterday, policy makers, civil rights leaders, and celebrities joined together alongside citizens to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King Jr. made his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. When thinking about the promise set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Dr. Kings’ call for America to fulfill that promise, I am always drawn back to the particular passages listed above and how both parties recognized the importance of life, liberty, and happiness for all individuals. Yet to attain these rights that both the Founding Fathers and Dr. King declared to be unalienable, having health and access to health care is a necessity. I recently sat down with Ruth Perot, CEO of the Summit Health Institute for Research and Education Inc., (SHIRE) a Washington D.C. – based organization that (more…)

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    Protecting Your Health: Access to Health Insurance and Medical Decision-Making in Divorces

    pictureGoing through a divorce can be unpleasant and stressful even under the most amicable situations.  The obvious issues that need to be dealt with, such as custody, spousal support, or child support, are rarely overlooked.  However, there are several areas of your health rights that are impacted by a divorce that are frequently not considered.  Knowing your rights and being prepared for the issues is the first step to taking control of and protecting your health.

    Health Insurance in Divorce

    With all the issues that arise during a separation, it is easy to forget about health insurance.  If at all possible, a spouse should try to get an agreement or court order requiring that the health insurance status quo be preserved – meaning that neither spouse nor the children’s health insurance will be affected during the pendency of the proceeding.


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    Anthony’s Story: Using a Collaborative Community to Increase Patient Compliance

    Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin

    Sitting with my morning coffee yesterday, I came across the same article many of us did about young Anthony Stokes, a teenager in Atlanta, who after being told that he had six months to live, was denied placement on a heart transplant list. His physician cited in a letter to the family, “Anthony is not a transplant candidate due to having a history of noncompliance.” This morning, I was relieved to read that the hospital notified the family that young Anthony was now placed on the transplant list, after a day of media coverage regarding their decision. (more…)

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    Our Campus, Our Rights: Students Rally Against Sexual Assault, Around Title IX

    Cate DominoForty years ago, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 became law, ensuring that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

    Twenty-two years ago, Nancy Gibbs and Sylvester Monroe wrote an article in Time Magazine titled “When is it Rape?” The article, which included stories of violence at a number of American colleges (including my alma mater, the College of William & Mary), launched the phrase “date rape” into the lexicon. (more…)

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    My Journey as an Undercover Patient

    mbloomrosenNot too long ago, I had the misfortune to fall from my bicycle and within minutes (thanks to the other bicycle riders and the EMTs who quickly came to my aid) my bicycle and I were on our way to the local hospital via ambulance with serious but non-life threatening injuries.  As a result of this incident, I got to experience the health care system first hand, up front and personal.  I had not been hospitalized since the birth of my children decades earlier. Thus began my unexpected journey as an undercover patient. (more…)

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    Silver and Gold: Barriers to Accessing the Health Care We Pay For

    jasminI signed up for the silver plan which was more than the bronze, but less than the gold. As a middle class American, this made sense. I could afford the amount that was deducted biweekly from my paycheck and I’d have pretty good health insurance, right?

    I made sure that my primary care physician (PCP) accepted my insurance. She did. Now I didn’t have to worry about switching providers. I had my health insurance figured out, or so I thought.


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    Sex and the Sleepless Night

    Jess Ladd Talking PicI want to make sex better.

    That’s what gets me up in the morning. Part of making sex better is doing what I can to eradicate sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).  I particularly focus on chlamydia and gonorrhea because I consider these really stupid infections. It’s crazy that they still exist. We know how to prevent them (condoms) and how to diagnose them (very specific and sensitive tests). We can completely cure these STDs. So then, why do these diseases infect over 3 million new Americans every year, half of whom are ages 15-25? (more…)

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    A Breath of Fresh Air: Design Thinking Helps Fight Childhood Asthma

    IMG_3722“It is hard to argue with the kind of impact you can make with healthcare,” said Stacey Chang, Director of IDEO’s Healthcare Practice and our facilitator for the day through Health for America’s design thinking workshop. We couldn’t agree more.

    Many people recognize the burden rising rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, have on society. Few, however, know that the most common chronic disease in children is asthma. One in ten children in the United States suffer from asthma, and it is the leading cause of missed school days with an estimated 14 million days lost each year. In addition to the impact on a child’s academic performance and quality of life, the disease places a substantial burden on parents. The additional child-care burden is particularly tough on those working hourly jobs or with unsympathetic managers. Keeping children healthier and out of emergency departments has the potential to impact entire communities.


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    Develop a Coaching Culture

    “I know I blow up and get angry. I am protective about my patients and the physicians in my department and I can’t help myself.”

    Dr. Leonard was one of my coaching clients, a surgeon who had left a trail of destruction by his combative style everywhere – the operating room, staff meetings and medical executive meetings.

    “I’m a leader in my surgical specialty. People expect me to be forceful.”

    I asked, “What do you look for in a good leader?”

    “I want someone who listens to me, who looks at all options without stuffing his solution down my throat. I want someone who is calm, thoughtful and . . .”

    After a long pause I heard “Oh.” (more…)

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    Filling Out the Patient Chorus: Are We ONLY Victims, Heroes and Champions?

    Jessie GrumanThe demand for patient voices is on the rise as hospitals and dialysis centers, research teams and health care advisory groups face requirements to document our participation in governance and program decisions. And many of us have stepped forward to take on these roles.

    Some of us do so as victims of horrific medical errors or uncoordinated care resulting in injury or from disrespectful care that undermines all confidence in health professionals and institutions. We want to make sure what happened to us or our child never happens to anyone else.

    Some of us are heroes, defiantly wearing Jimmy Choo stilettos to chemotherapy or battling our over-extended doctors to ferret out a cure for our or our mom’s disease. We want to demonstrate that with a ton of chutzpah, considerable energy and a little luck, we patients can overcome some of the limitations of health care and live to tell the tale. (more…)

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