When you think about health care, what comes to mind? For some, it’s a pursuit of wellness connecting mind, body, and spirit. For others, health care is like a car’s transmission – you don’t really notice or appreciate it until it’s making a noise, or completely broken. People in the middle of a crisis or transition in a significant relationship can feel especially stressed, which we all know affects our health. Some may find themselves both ill and alone for the first time.
My name is Beth, and I am writing a series of articles designed to help you navigate today’s complex health care system. I am a nurse by training, but several years ago I became interested in the study of “quality” care – especially for patients who are in the hospital. None of what I write will be an endorsement for a particular hospital or care system, nor is any of the content meant to recommend any course of treatment. Simply, I will be giving you information so that you can make educated choices about your own health care. I invite your comments and conversation.
One of the hot topics in primary health care these days is Patient Reported Health Outcomes (PROM). Some provider practices, and even some employers and insurers are starting to use patient-generated information to help them assess how the patient feels about their general state of health, or target areas of specific concern for health needs.
The engagement of patients in their own health assessment serves at least two purposes: using the voice of the patient in ways that may not be solicited during the face-to-face provider encounter; and getting the patient to start to really pay attention to how they assess critical components of their health status. Sort of completes the three-legged stool: the first leg is the provider assessment, the second is the patient accessing their health record; and the third is actually giving the patient a full partnership through self-assessment. Whether these PROM initiatives have long-term effects in health status improvement is still being studied.
I ran across a really cool web-based health assessment that you might want to take a look at. The website is www.howsyourhealth.org and you can complete an online assessment from an array of health status components. At the end of the assessment, you receive information based on the responses to the “checkup”. This summary can serve as a checklist of discussion items for your next provider visits, but there are also resources for reading and action you can take on your own. It doesn’t require a password or for you to identify yourself. You can also save any or all of the documents in case you want to track your progress on any health improvement interventions you work on. Enjoy!