On July 1st of this year my view of our health care system changed forever. That’s the day that I broke a bone in my shoulder due to a bicycle accident, had 2 surgeries and spent 3 days in what is supposed to be one the best hospitals in the US. I am still dealing with nerve pain in my hand and have very limited use of my left hand but what I have learned, the hard way, is that I had to be proactive in asking questions and requesting follow-up appointments.
Mass General Hospital has a patient portal to help patients keep track of test results and future appointments but what I found is that very few of the doctors I was seeing actually check the emails that are sent from the portals. In addition I was told that a shoulder specialist was going to review the results of my MRI and sent me a written report which never happened. I had to go in and read the radiologist’s report myself.
Then there were the visits to the physicians’ offices. They all started the same with a resident talking with me first followed by a very brief visit by the specialist I was supposed to see. As a patient how do you think that made me feel?
So where has all this lead ?
(1) I now do a lot of research on the Internet on every medication I am prescribed and other medications. I ask for specific medications by name and ask pointed questions if the physician will not prescribe them.
(2) Whenever a medical test is ordered I ask “why” and want to know what the doctor is looking for.
(3) There are some medications where I will choose generic but others where I will ask for branded even though the co-pay is more. After reading about Ranbaxy and the shortage of FDA inspections outside the US I want to know where all my medications are coming from.
(4) The Internet is an invaluable source of medical information but it’s often filled with too much bogus health information. There should be a better way to differentiate good health information from bad health information.
(5) I have an MBA and read a lot but a lot of health information on drug product websites is too damn hard to understand.
(6) If I ever have to stay over in a hospital again I am going to challenge the medications they are giving me. A 500% markup on a multivitamin is unacceptable.
Finally I am a person not just another “appointment”. Of all the doctors that I saw only one asked “how can I help you feel better?”.
The lessons are there for DTC marketers and they better learn them quickly because any drug company that doesn’t take the time to understand my needs and wants is not going to get my health care dollars.