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Take the Pledge to be an Informed Healthcare Consumer!

Are you part of the generation that recalls the small local family doctors’ office, where sometimes the same doctor would take care of one generation through the next?  The doc would know your name, your spouse’s name, and even the sports team your kids played on? Heck – they would even remember why they had seen you and actually know your medical history! The family doctor was really the family health advocate, because they had the time within the context of their small office environment.  Recently, I visited with my own father – a retired physician and one of those family doctors that knew each and every one of his patients. His response to a recent visit to the hospital with my mother was, “All I see is the doctor and the nurse at the computer?”  I sat next to my dad, watching the dynamics in the hospital as a “visitor” of a family member and simply reflected on the state of mind of our industry.  We really are big business.

The Healthcare Business

As I watched, it was apparent that healthcare has become more and more of a business. Doctors’ offices grow and doctors take on more patients. As they take on more patients and more responsibilities, they lose the in-person time to be the patient advocates they once were. What does this mean to you? How do you cope in this big healthcare business on the intimate subject of one’s health?  As a patient, you now must be your own healthcare advocate. That means asking questions and knowing your health history. Being an informed consumer of your health!

The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT is trying to help you do just that. They recently launched a two-prong campaign to increase consumer awareness of health IT, or information technology.

Use Your Personal Health Information

“Data holders”- including providers, hospitals, payers, and retail pharmacies – are asked to allow patients access to personal health information (PHI) “in a secure, timely and usable manner” and to encourage patients to use their PHI to improve their own health. “Non-data-holders”- including employers, consumer and disease-based organizations, health care associations, and product developers – are asked “to engage and empower individuals to be partners in their health through information technology.” Listed examples of such actions include educational campaigns, social media campaigns, CEO messages to employees, and public discussions.

Recently, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which includes 39 “Blues” plans, and members Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and WellPoint, which includes 14 Blues plans, endorsed this campaign. This is a huge step in the right direction. When major players in the industry acknowledge the campaign, it causes other players to join the movement as well.

Now patients need to take advantage of this initiative. It will only help you; by becoming your own healthcare advocate, you can stay healthier by informing doctors of your medical history and avoid medical identity theft and other dangers of not monitoring your information.

Now put on your detective hat and take advantage of healthcare IT. Sniffing out your healthcare history has never been so easy.

Thanks for reading!

Rebecca S. Busch

Healthcare Advocate


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1 comment

Join the conversation
  • Sabari - June 27, 2012

    I wouldn’t mind paniyg my health care contributions with after tax dollars, and thus eliminating the government subsidization of my health care benefits. But taxing the entire thing as income is excessive. I think we should level the playing field, not sow it with land mines. My wife and I together pay about $ 160/month for awesome insurance, and we have a flexible reimbursement account that allows us to set aside $ 100/month pre-tax for expenses like co-pays and over the counter drugs. That means we wind up saving around 23% for the year as opposed to paniyg with after tax dollars. People without employer based health insurance don’t have that option, making it a government subsidy. So get rid of that aspect, but if my entire plan were taxed as income I couldn’t afford it. And I know a lot of other people who couldn’t as well. That’s a cure worse than the problem.