Recently, I was chosen to be a Patient Champion Activist for the Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely Campaign, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation . What is the Patient Champion Activist Program about? This is a teaching tool to encourage us to help find our voices while discussing our healthcare options. It's something that is easily shared with friends, family and your community. During most of my son’s younger life and struggles to find adequate doctors that (I felt) had our family’s best interest at heart, this was a skill that I had to learn. As a parent, as a mom and as a person who not only wants to treat a medical condition, I am determined to be a part of what the root cause is and what all of the treatment options are for us. I found out early on that not all physicians are alike which means that all of us need to know that it’s ok to ask questions rather than trust what the doctor has decided for us. If I had not asked questions, I am certain that my son would have had multiple and possibly life-threatening reactions to some of the treatments suggested by his Pediatrician due to his allergies. Many of us are taught that doctors know best. Many do but not all of them do.
- Do I really need this test or procedure? Everyone’s health is different so everyone’s health plan should be different as well.
- What are the risks and side effects? Most doctors will explain this but it’s always good to ask anyway.
- Are there simpler, safer options? With today’s advances in medicine and broad range of techniques, there are usually options to choose from.
- What happens if I don’t do anything? This is something that most people don’t think is an option but it’s your health and your choice.
- How much does it cost, and will my insurance pay for it?Although cost should never be the determining factor for your healthcare, knowing ahead of time of what you can expect is less stressful.
Become Your Own Advocate Nobody advocates better for you than you. Be proud to ask questions, be honest when speaking with physicians and be proud to disagree about your healthcare options- these are all your choices. Being a part of the food allergy community means integrating healthcare options and knowing how to choose wisely. As I always mention, I am here to help- if you need help, always ask me. If I don’t have the answer that you need, I can try to find someone that does have it or feels they can help you get it. All of our voices are strong and even when you feel that your voice won’t make a difference, it can and it will. Use your voice to protect yourself and others.
For more information on the Choosing Wisely program or how you can educate others in your area, you can visit them at on the web, Facebook and Twitter.