6 Steps to Getting the Care You Need
Each year, too many Americans die as a result of medical errors, while
others suffer inadequate or inefficient care as they attempt to navigate
our increasingly complex health care system.
You and your loved ones deserve to get the best quality of care possible,
but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Between seeking a diagnosis,
finding the right physician and getting treatment, there is a lot that
can complicate the process. Knowing the steps to navigate the health care
system can be the difference between life and death.
The Patient’s Playbook, I use my 30 years of experience to help patients achieve the best medical
outcomes and institutions deliver high-quality health care. By learning
from real-life success stories and easy, actionable strategies, patients
can navigate their health care dilemmas with confidence.
The Patient’s Playbook, I explain how to get to the No-Mistake Zone, the place where you feel
completely confident about your major health care decisions.
As complex as the American health care system is, finding the No-Mistake
Zone can involve a lot of independent research and legwork on the patient’s
part. Fortunately, some institutions make it easy.
Washington Hospital, for instance, operates with a patient-first mentality.
In fact, a key component of its mission is to provide appropriate employee,
professional and community education resources to enhance patient care.
I’ve personally worked with the health care system
to help them develop their internal and external resources that actively help patients get to the point where they can make informed
decisions. Here’s a
link to a Community Forum I did with them on this very topic.
So, how do you know you’re in the No-Mistake Zone?
- Your diagnosis is specific and confirmed.
Diagnostic error accounts for an estimated 10 percent of deaths in the
United States. Before you go down a treatment path, you want to get your
diagnosis confirmed by an expert in your specific condition.
- You’re convinced about when and why you need to be treated.
Once you receive a confirmed diagnosis from a specialist, ask them how
soon you need to begin treatment, and what happens if you delay treatment.
Unless you need to act immediately, take the time to fully do your homework.
- You’ve explored and understand your treatment options.
In addition to meeting with specialists, it’s important to know as
much as possible about your condition. Being your own best advocate means
becoming a personal authority on your condition, knowing your treatment
choices, and understanding the outcomes and effects of each option.
- You’ve met with experienced physicians who can administer your treatment
at an institution that’s appropriate for the care you need.
To receive the best possible care with the best possible outcomes, it’s
important that you choose a physician who has experience with your exact
condition as well as the exact treatment you’re seeking. How do
you know if they’re experienced? Ask! A conversation with your physician
should never be one-way. You should feel comfortable enough with them
to ask questions like, “How many times have you done this surgery
- You can visualize your treatment plan and how all the steps will be coordinated.
Once you’re comfortable with your diagnosis, options and timing,
as well as the physician who will administer your treatment, you’ll
have a clearer picture of what to expect from treatment and recovery.
This way you can start making the appropriate arrangements, such as taking
time off of work, finding an interim caretaker and coordinating transportation
to future follow-up appointments. The goal is to minimize surprises when
you’re least equipped to deal with them – like when you’re
in pain or otherwise incapacitated during recovery.
- Your gut is telling you, “This is the treatment for me and this is
the physician I want to carry it out.”
Once your brain has all of the information it needs to consider its options,
that’s when your gut can step in and tell you to go for it. At the
end of the day, being in the No-Mistake Zone means being confident enough
to plot your course and prepared to travel the road to recovery.
Posted September, 2018
About Leslie Michelson
Bestselling author and CEO of Private Health Management, Leslie Michelson
has more than three decades of experience helping patients become their
own best advocates and helping institutions deliver high-quality health
care. In The Patient’s Playbook, he turns this experience into actionable
steps and practical tools that empower readers to achieve the best possible
health outcomes no matter their condition, age or stage of life.
After receiving his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from
Yale Law School, he served as Special Assistant to the General Counsel
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as CEO of
the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the world’s largest source of philanthropic
support for prostate cancer research. Currently, he is on the Advisory
Board of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, the board of the ALS
Therapy Development Institute, and frequently speaks to audiences around
the world on medical decision-making and personal health care advocacy.