Own Your Health

27Jul10

 

Traditionally, a person with a medical problem will consult a doctor for advice.  Yet, with health care cost skyrocketing and the increasing interest in alternative medicine, patients are looking towards the Internet for important information related to his or her specific medical condition.  Armed with information, patients are able to make an informed decision regarding their health.  This trend has led to the emergence of patient empowerment, thus has contributed to better medical outcomes.   

According to the National Vital Statistics Reports for 2006, the life expectancy in the Unites States was about 78 years of age compared to 40 years ago when the life expectancy was about 70 years of age.  Thus, unlike previous generations, people are living longer.  With the prospect of living longer, people want a better qualify of life during their later years.    

Furthermore, medical errors has resulted in significant financial burden for the health care industry and patients’ loss of trust towards medical professionals.  For example, in “a study of patients in 2002 estimated that HAIs [hospital-aquired infections] account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths annually, making them the most common complication of hospital care. The added financial burden attributable to HAIs is estimated to be between $28 billion to $33 billion each year.”  Also, some people question their doctors if conflicting information is found on the Internet.  The number of those who discount their doctor’s advice are small relative to the rest of the population yet it still amounts to millions of people. 

The patient empowerment concept, a recent outgrowth of the natural health movement, asserts that to be truly healthy, people must bring about changes in their social situations and in the environment that influences their lives, not only in their personal behavior.  Patients have rights and by emphasizing empowerment, places the responsibility with the patients.  Not only is medical information readily available through the Internet but patients are able to find online support groups.  Support groups allow people to share their experiences with others who suffer from the same ailments, share information about treatments options, and learn coping skills.      

In order to take control of one’s health, the individual must set guidelines that will lead to healthier habits.  These guidelines help the individual maintain awareness and responsibility for his or her own actions.  Just remember, taking small steps in a positive direction will make a lasting impact!  Besides, who else knows you better?

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