Thankfully, the medical field continues to make advances in treatment options, giving patients more options than ever before. Now, we have to ask ourselves if we as patients are aware of all of our options and if we have the resources to determine the best course of action.
We recently had the chance to go to the Orthopedic Summit for Evolving Techniques (OSET) as a vendor, so we spent a great deal of time amongst other vendors on the trade show floor.
Companies big and small are pushing hard to get their new products or services out there to better equip orthopedic surgeons with new techniques to treat patients.
While all of these solutions are approved by the appropriate regulatory body, some are more accepted than others. Some surgeons will choose not to use the newest technique until it is better proven. Some will adopt new ideas quickly.
(Quick aside, we recorded a podcast after the OSET meeting that addresses both the business side and the patient side.)
The point is, there are a lot of ways to move towards treatment as a patient. How are we to know what’s right for us?
Research and Trust as Patients
We have a lot of avenues online these days to be able to research. I’m sure that the majority of us do not have medical degrees, so we’re learning the best we can with the information we have available to us.
Still, we’re able to have much more informed conversations when we talk to a medical professional. We can think about what we actually want out of our care. We can choose a more invasive option if we think we’ll get the results we want most, or we can opt for less invasive.
We can bring these opinions and needs to the table.
At that point, we work with our medical team to see if we’re aligned on our approach. Sometimes, our preferences don’t match up with the best option. Other times, the doctor may just have an opinion on how he or she would like to proceed, and it doesn’t always line up with every other doctor.
This is where we have flexibility. We can choose to see another physician. We can get a second opinion.
It’s not the most straightforward path, but we do have options.
At some point, we’re looking to get matched up with a physician or group with whom we agree on the overall direction of treatment. And this is where I feel like practices and health systems could do more to help us understand their approach.
If a critical point in the way that the practice approaches care is “opioid sparing,” let’s talk about that. If alternative treatments are a great first step for a lot of patients, let’s talk about that.
Help us understand your preferred way of treating instead of just telling us that you perform procedures and that you have a lot of experience.
Enabling Patients on Their Journey
If you’re involved in communications or marketing for your practice or healthcare systems, let’s think about sharing more than just the stats and CV’s.
What information is going to help someone make a decision about their care? It’s not more of the same copy/paste educational content.
There are still so many gaps in patients being able to find the information they need, and we can help with that process.
Part of the process of helping patients along in their journey is more fully considering their potential levels of understanding and intent at each stage of their journey. This isn’t an intelligence issue. It’s a matter of how much time the patient has had to invest in understanding.
If a patient first interacts with healthcare information that automatically assumes that the patient will know the full name of their condition and the brands involved in treating that condition, then that patient is going to leave feeling confused.
I realize that we have limited budgets and that we have to get across as much info as we can in the space we have provided.
Still. People need to be engaged at each stage of their healthcare journey with the right kind and the right amount of information.
This isn’t easy, but it’s critical to help people move along the path to treatment.
The good news is that lots of people are tackling this problem. Check out this episode of Healthcare Rap to hear a number of great approaches: