I've been asked to be part of a panel discussion addressing student nurses next month, for which I'm honored. The topic of the discussion is Communicating With ePatients: Patients who are 'educated, empowered, equipped, and engaged' in their care, and here's how the organizer of this panel views the issue:
"Patients in this group may be proficient at online research, active in health-centric communities (on or off line), or medical professionals. They may be caregivers who are versed in their loved one's condition or self-advocates. They come to appointments with notes, questions, ideas, and detailed input, and expect to be heard and taken seriously. They don't (as a rule) believe they know more about medicine, but that they do know more about themselves. They typically have chronic issues and want to partner with their medical team in their ongoing care plans.Do you consider yourself an ePatient? Have you had experiences similar to the ones described above?
Often times, their educated presentation backfires. Chronic pain sufferers who know which medications will or won't work, claim allergies to a lesser medication right away, or come in the door asking for something by name are labelled drug seekers (not to diminish the issue of real drug seekers, but there has to be a way to separate the addict from the sufferer). People who've researched diagnoses and diagnostics are hypochondriacs. People who rattle off terminology are, at best, show offs and more often, labelled as attention seekers. And unfortunately many older, more established physicians consider the involved patient a nuisance who couldn't possibly suggest something the doctor didn't consider on his or her own. This is also seen in brand new practitioners whose wet ink on their licenses clearly tells us they know all the latest information and we should trust them implicitly."
If you were given an opportunity to help educate health care providers on this topic, what would YOU want your future nurses and doctors to know?