The Future of Your Cancer Care With Patient Involvement

09/16/2017 09:34 pm ET

In a previous blog that I wrote about electronic record keeping in doctors’ offices, I discussed some of the new problems that are facing the healthcare system as a result. In reviewing them, however, I can see some ways that we really can make the new programs work for all of us as patients if we choose to step up and take responsibility for ourselves. We have so many opportunities to make a difference in our personal lives in this arena because we have so many tools and so much information at our disposal.

In the past, we were totally reliant on our doctors for all of our health care and issues. With the advent of the computer and all of the ways that we can find out new information, we can take better control of our own lives in this arena. Information is being updated on a daily basis. Regardless of the issues that we may be facing, there are resources being provided to help us. If we choose, we can address many minor issues by doing a bit of research rather than always having to pick up the phone and ask the doctor. And these resources are not just limited to solving issues but also can help by allowing us to be proactive in improving our quality of life.

Let's say you want to lose weight. You may have an initial discussion with your doctor about what you want to do and how the best way to go about it may be for you personally. But from there, based upon the recommendations of your doctor, you can find everything that you need on the Internet to support the agreed-upon course that you want to pursue. Perhaps as you follow your initial course, you may find that there are some things that just don't work for you. You have the opportunity to review other choices and make selections of things that can better be incorporated into your life that will help you to reach your goals. It really is that simple.

The same thing applies to any medical situation that you may face. I can most easily speak about cancer, as this is the area with which I am most familiar. There are people everyday who are facing new challenges in this arena for the very first time or for the umpteenth time. But, regardless of where you turn, there is help and information and guidance and new updates all of the time. But, you can't expect your doctor to have all of this information at his/her fingertips just because it is available when they are dealing with so many different people with so many different problems. Therefore, it becomes incumbent upon each of us to gather, review and take this information with us to our doctors’ appointments and share it there. You may only have a few minutes to spend with your doctor so you want to make the most of that time. And I believe that you will find that if your doctor is not familiar with all of the choices that you have presented, he/she will be more than glad to review everything outside of your appointment time, in context with your particular situation, and select a course of treatment that will be in your best interest.

I believe that this will not only make for the best medical outcome but it will also be the best for both you and your doctor. As a patient, it is important to feel some empowerment over your medical condition. For the doctor, it is important to have as much up-to-date information as possible in order to set the best course of treatment for you. And together, this makes for the best possible team to treat any illness with complete trust that everything possible is being done for the best outcome.

So rather than thinking about the fact that with the new healthcare programs you will have less face to face time with your doctor, finding ways to improve that time can and will enhance whatever time is available. Working in tandem with your doctor rather than expecting someone else to have the time and energy to do all of the work when you have the resources to help is a bit disrespectful, irresponsible and just plain unacceptable – to yourself. We are all responsible for our own health and our own lives and it is up to us to do the best that we can to take care of ourselves. After all, there will never be anyone else who is more vested in your health and your life than you.

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