It has been a great summer so far. Pretty relaxing. I got to go on my first vacation in 10 years. It was amazing. Now I am getting geared up for the fall. Sept. is Pain Awareness Month and we have a lot of events going on. As well my newest book The Pain Code; Walking Through the Minefield of the Health system will be released in print on September 1, 2012. I will post a link when it becomes available. Besides monsoons being more frequent this summer, things are going well.
Women can be their own best advocate by taking steps to lead your life. Don’t rely on others to make your decisions, do your research, or keep you organized. Start by speaking up and coordinating with the people in your life. Setting the expectation is so important and although best done at the beginning of a challenge, it is possible to be successful doing this later in the process. To become the Chief of Staff of my Medical Team I focused on 5 areas; finding the correct doctor, preparing for the doctor visit, what to do at the doctor visit, following my care plan, and staying on top of my medical billing statements. Finding a doctor that specializes in the condition you are diagnosed with can be a challenge. It is important to keep in mind that you are not looking for just any general physician but rather for a physician who has expertise in the treatment and management of your specific illness or condition. Find out if the doctor knows about your conditions in-depth is very important. For instance sometimes a pain doctor will know more about arthritis and others Neuropathy conditions. Once you find your provider team be sure not to waste their time or yours by preparing for the visit. At the appointment be assertive and listen to the other side. You need to be an expert of your issue through research and asking questions. Make sure you have a shared understanding of your treatment goals. If you want to be pain free, but the condition you have will not allow it, come up with better goals that are realistic and increase them as you get better. Also, many people have a lot of questions or information they want to share with their doctor. Bring them in writing and write them as you think of them, not at the last minute. While at the doctor’s office organize the visit by going through your summary sheet (try to keep it to one page, and typed if possible). It is important that you stay on track and focused at your doctor appointments and it helps to take someone with you. They can take notes while you are speaking with the doctor. I have come home and said, “now what did the doctor say about taking this medication” and if my husband wasn’t there, I would not have known what to do and would have had to call the doctor’s office and take up more of their time. One important thing while with a provider is keeping your emotions under control. If you are depressed but are there for another issue, the doctor will treat your mental state first. Staying focused can help you get what you want to focus on and need answers for accomplished. Finally, be specific. For instance, if you are there for pain show where it hurts: point to the areas; if it is your whole body, does any part hurt more than the rest or does the pain feel different in different spots? In-between appointments you are responsible for following through on the doctor’s orders. Be sure to do your homework so you can accomplish your goals. When you are proactive through research you can make a better decision on the options your doctor gives you and make sure you are choosing the one that is best for you. Keep track of progress and setbacks and report back to the provider on your next visit as a section of your one pager. Be sure to educate the doctor on revisits with the progress made, ability to function in daily living activities, and any new goals or research information you have found in relation to your condition. Finally, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) says, “8 in 10 medical bills have a mistake on it”. I have paid thousands of dollars in medical bills because I didn’t pay attention. I got some of the money back but not all. Before you pay medical bills, check the explanation of benefits from your insurance company against Doctor’s bill. Sometimes doctors send you a bill before they hear back from your insurance company. Your insurance company will negotiate rates for you so the amount you owe may be significantly less than the doctor’s charges. If you don’t have insurance don’t be afraid to ask for a cash discount, insurance companies get discounts and doctors can write off your discount on their taxes. Remember to file an appeal if you feel the insurance company got it wrong. For example they ask you to do Step Therapy but you have already tried and failed the cheaper medication. Using your records to show that you already went through this can save you time, money and health. Keeping organized records and file appeals when possible. Many people will say no the first time asked, because they don’t want to have a financial burden or take time out in their own life. I have a copy of all of my medical records from the past 10 years. It takes up 6 three-inch binders and is growing. If you can provide records and other researched information and go back to them, it is more likely to get them to say yes to assist with your goal achievement. Staying organized and prepared helps us get through the day with less stress, anxiety and pain.
This is from an interview I did in January 2012. You can read the full article from my media page.
NEW YORK (REUTERS) — When your health insurance provider denies an
experimental treatment or a high-cost drug, how much are you willing to pay for
the care you believe you need?
Barby Ingle, a former cheerleading and dance coach at Washington University
who now lives in a Phoenix suburb, has been forced to face this question.
Her troubles began in 2002 when her car collided with another in a parking lot.
The accident was minor, but her health problems lingered. She went from doctor
to doctor; drugs, physical therapy and surgery did not help and her condition
worsened. She started to feel a burning pain in her neck and arms, her skin
began to discolor and she had trouble moving. Finally, she had to stop working.
It wasn’t until three years later that an anesthesiologist put it all together. Ingle,
now 39, had a rare progressive disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, or
RSD. The doctor prescribed a series of procedures called radiofrequency
ablations, which were thought to help people with RSD.