Now Doctors Are Scoring Us

Now doctors are scoring us.

In the hot seat for most of their professional lives, medical professionals are now being asked to rate how well patients rate, following through on the directions they're given to take medication, not skip screenings and, worst of all, wind up back in the hospital for what they were treated for in the first place.

According to The Wall Street Journal, doctors are now being asked to rank how "activated" they think patients will be.

"'Patient activation'" is a measure of how engaged patients will be in their own care," the WSJ reports. "Patients who are highly activated have better outcomes and incur lower costs, studies show, even though as many as 40% of Americans lack the skills, knowledge and confidence to become model patients."

Why are doctors doing this? Scores make it easier to customize information, coaching and other interventions. "The aim is for patients, rather than feel overwhelmed by instructions, to become confident that they can change their own behavior," the WSJ explains.

A new assessment campaign gives patients scores from 0 to 100 by asking how strongly they agree or disagree with 13 statements, such as "I am confident that I can tell a doctor my concerns, even when he or she does not ask." Based on their scores, patients are categorized into one of four activation levels, the WSJ notes. Those at the lowest level typically lack confidence and problem-solving ability. At the highest level they are usually engaged but may need help when under stress so they don't fall off the wagon.

I don't know about you but I'm a pretty good patient (probably because I've had several major illnesses in my lifetime).  I listen attentively and try to do what I'm told, but at times, especially when I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, there were many things my husband heard at our appointment that I didn't.  (Recently, nine years later, I happened to find a journal I kept from that time and was startled to read that my doctor had said I might have a recurrence.  I didn't remember that at all.  But she was right.  I did.)

So how do you become an "activated" patient?  Take notes at doctor's appointments, fill your prescriptions (an astounding number of people do not), take the medication (again, you wouldn't believe how many don't), and make sure you schedule and then go to yearly or monthly screenings, as recommended.  (My husband, who is 64, has yet to have a colonoscopy.)

It may sound like too much trouble, but if it can keep you healthier, and live a longer life, what's the problem?  


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