We all have sat in the doctor's office, waiting too long to be seen, and thought of what we really would like to say to the doctor once we finally are called in.
I have spent my career exploring the provider/patient relationship, helping health-care providers run their businesses in a way that respects patients. Now, I am executive director of the Power of the Patient Project, a national initiative based in Cherry Hill. My passion is helping to educate patients about their rights, and what they can do to be full partners in managing their own health.
In the coming months, I will be sharing with Inquirer/Philly.com readers some of what I have learned over the last 35 years as a professor of health-care administration. I'll cover topics such as what to do when it seems that doctors are giving you the runaround instead of a diagnosis, what a patient support group can do for you, and the 10 essential tools to take to every medical visit.
Today, I'll start with a story from my time teaching health-care administration students at the Arcadia University School of Global Business.
In 2003, a few years after arriving at Arcadia, I gathered about 14 of my students and we visited 10 medical practices around the Philadelphia area. We observed how long patients were kept in the waiting room, how long the complete visit took, and the overall attitudes of patients after their encounter with the doctor.
The result was a poster that still hangs in the offices of many local practices. It is called "I Am a Patient," and it captures much of what we want our doctors and other health-care providers to know. It is based on the Patient Bill of Rights, first adopted by the American Hospital Association in 1973 to support effective patient care. Among the highlights:
Back in January, 14 years after we created that poster, students from the spring 2017 semester helped us start the Power of the Patient Project. We give presentations to patient support groups, in public libraries, at special health and wellness events, and other venues throughout the region. Our website (thepowerofthepatient.org) provides a comprehensive list of resources to get reliable information on medical conditions and treatment options, and we also have a library of video segments featuring prominent physicians from around the region.