The Tools of Patienthood
August 2nd 2012 · 0 Comments
Last week I wrote about Patienthood. You were told to speak up. OK. About what? You are told to be empowered. Empowered to do what? Well here are some websites. Most are free. They will turn you into a “semi-pro” and starts you on the road to Patienthood.
Start reading your doctors’ literature. Use them as tools, not weapons. Ask your doctor about their opinions regarding the information you bring. Don’t interrogate us. We love giving you opinions. We don’t like being questioned. Sorry, it’s a fact of life. Being a smart health consumer starts with the right resources as well as the attitudes to use when deploying them.
Remember to go to www.uticaphoenix.net to make all the links with a click. It’s easy! An internet tutorial for medical searches.
To get started, here’s a great online tutorial: vtstutorials.co.uk. It’s for medical students. But hey, you’re a student of medicine…right?
The JAMA collection.
If you want an all-purpose site where many “physician-only” articles are public access then the www.jamanetwork.com is for you. On this one site you can search the entire Archives series and JAMA. That’s a dozen medical journals whose original investigation and research articles are free between 6 and 12 months from publication.
TheCochraneLibrary.com is about all things medical that are “evidenced based.” Plain language and summaries outline the “best evidence.”
From our friends across the pond comes a full service search engine, www.searchmedica.com. It delivers only the most clinically reputable content, intended for practicing medical clinicians. Some entries are basic entry-level discussions. By registering you’ll get free searching tips to make finding medical information faster.
Confused about your lab tests? We are too. www.labtestsonline.org will be a big help. It also has an excellent summary of hundreds of disease states and valuable links. And, it is totally ad free.
www.modernmedicine.com offers a search engine with M.D. grade material. The site has other resources. Registration is free.
When people complain about the Feds they might want to log in to our government’s Agency for Health Care and Research Quality www.ahrq.gov. The search engine offers detailed information on just about any condition when you need a complete unbiased resource.
This is my favorite. www.medpagetoday.com. On its search engine you can see the combined results from MedPage Today, Cochrane Reviews & PubMed/NIH.
But When All is Said and Done
I have the strong belief that healthcare consumers should purchase online access to a journal that is encyclopedic and reasonably basic but authoritative.
Journals meant for physician readers should not intimidate lay readers. My recommendation would be to investigate The Journal of Family Practice, www.jfponline.com. At $80 a year it’s a bargain. It is broad in scope and accessible to casual readers. Family physicians deal with the broadest range of topics in their practices and this is reflected in their literature.
Its search engine is amongst the best linking you to on-line medical encyclopedias, evidence based medicine journals and current clinical guidelines. Get online and check it out before you purchase access. Pick a topic and search it.
Diagnoses and treatments start with the least invasive, safest, most economical and sensitive techniques. They may then progress to the more invasive, expensive and risky ones. It’s best to know the action sequences. It’s best to know when it’s time for a referral. This type of information can be ferreted out in any of the above resources but are easiest to find in a one-stop shopping site like the Journal of Family Practice.
When you use any of these resources you:
Will be an unusually well-informed patient. You may be able to be inducted into the Patienthood Hall of Fame.
Will transcend the “be your own advocate” clichés. You can’t advocate for yourself or your family if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Period.
Now have access to the best evidence.
Become a partner in your care, empowered by valid end-point data.
Have at your fingertips the ability to be aware of diagnostic tools, treatments and controversies before your visit.
Will be enabled, as never before, to judge the quality of the advice after your visit.
Will be a better judge of your doctors. You may find that it’s either time to jump ship or buy your doc that box of chocolates.
Will not be a doctor. You should not self-diagnose or treat. Just because you own a horse doesn’t make you a cowboy.
By Mark Ziobro