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Now up on YouTube:

You, the patient, are a vital component of medical decision making. Believe it or not, it’s worth your effort to find out about your treatment options! This informal FlipCam vignette models a physician encouraging the patient to ask: “Don’t you want to know??” Cast: Pat Mastors as the empowering physician, and e-Patient Dave pretending to be passive. :-)


At last December’s IHI Forum (Institute for Healthcare Improvement), through the generous support of the Cautious Patient Foundation, fifty patient advocates were brought together to participate in every session.  Numerous SPM members were there – Regina Holliday, Trisha Torrey, and others I apologize for not remembering right now.

One was Pat Mastors, a former New England broadcast professional and creator of the Patient Pod, which she created after the incredibly difficult experience (all too common) of watching her father die from a hospital-acquired infection. (Story) Like so many advocates, Pat has responded to her tragedy by applying her professional skills to improving healthcare.

With her TV background she had an idea for a PSA (public service announcement) to encourage people to be engaged in medical decision making – to ask questions. I said “Hey, let’s pull out my FlipCam and do a draft. Maybe somebody will grab it and do a ‘real’ version.” She was hesitant, professional that she is, but I talked her into it. :–)

Immense thanks to Cautious Patient, and to IHI for having the vision to realize that patients should be – must be – engaged in conversations to improve healthcare. Not all events do this – for instance, at the upcoming Medicine 2.0 conference, there’s only a single patient speaking. Patients are the most underutilized resource in healthcare – Let Patients Help!

And, ladies and gents, that starts with you, the patient. Ask your doctor questions – including when you’re presented with just one option, with no discussion of risks and alternatives. Ask.

For more on questions, see Questions Are The Answer, a great website from AHRQ (the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), with vignettes like “You ask your waiter about the side dish, but you don’t ask your doctor about side effects. Questions are the answer.” See AHRQ question PSAs here.


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