If you’re one of the tens of millions of COPD patients around the world, I have a question for you. Do you consider your doctor, your partner for life? I was recently invited to talk to health care professionals about COPD and how patients and doctors could have a more cohesive relationship. Sure, some patients already enjoy the benefits of a great doctor/patient relationship, but the majority don’t! So, what is it we can do differently?
It’s the million-dollar question and not an easy one to answer. While our healthcare professional try to do their best, the fact is they have constraints. Time restraints, budgetary constraints and bureaucratic constraints. As patients, I believe we can’t put all the responsibility on our healthcare professional. As patients we have to take ownership of our disease, we have to inspire our healthcare professional to join us on our journey.
One of the takeaways from the forum I spoke at was, healthcare professionals wanted to find a way to close the gap in service and to help patients get off the hospital readmission roundabout. While the discussions around this were positive, I couldn’t help thinking surely some of the responsibility has to fall on the patients.
Most healthcare systems around the world are stretched to the limit or broken. With this in mind is it time we as patients rolled up our sleeves and become more engaged with our disease and our healthcare workers? Personally, I think, absolutely! One of the worst things we can do as patients is do nothing.
Think about you last doctors visit, were you proactive? Was your doctor proactive? Did your doctor do a quick examination, write you out prescriptions and say see you in three months? For many patients this is their normal and is a common reason for their health outcomes not to improve. Does this sound familiar?
So, what can you do about it?
Be proactive between doctor’s visits, take control of your disease. If your doctor has many COPD patients and is under time pressure, who do you think is going to get the best care? The patient who is proactive or the patients who isn’t? Finding and suggesting your own strategies for managing your disease between doctors’ visits shows your doctor you are serious about managing your disease properly.
I’ve written many articles in the past about writing out lists between doctor’s visits. Take notice of the times you’re at your best and the times you’re not. See if you can figure out a pattern, discuss the pattern with your doctor. This pattern may give a better picture of your disease to your doctor and may lead to a better management plan. When I arrive at my doctor’s clinic for my regular visit, he knows I’m going to have a list of questions. He knows I’m hellbent on finding better ways to improve my quality of life.
Those of you who have been following my journey would know I like to push boundaries in the pursuit of finding a new strategy. My doctor is my handbrake and my accelerator. He will tell me if my ideas are absurd or whether they have merit. My point is I’m constantly giving him something to think about, which shows him I’m engaged in the management of my COPD. Which inspires him to do the same.
COPD patients are in it for the long haul and so are our doctors, working together we can become a powerful force and we will become partners for life!