Have you ever felt pounded by a disease or accident that suddenly turned your life upside-down? Or maybe you have been disoriented, confused, or intimidated as a patient or cared for somebody who is. Well that was me not so long ago. When I was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer at age 42, I was in uncharted waters, facing the most challenging waves of confusion, fear, and chaos of my life. I clearly was not ready to be pounded by the disease, nor the healthcare system itself – but I was. The irony is that I am an expert in the health insurance field. I also have family and friends who are doctors, and health pros of all types. You'd think that if anybody could navigate the system well, it would have been me. Not so. But just four years later when I was diagnosed with an unrelated but life-threatening brain tumor, I took control of the process. I learned how to make the system work for me and it made a world of difference in my outcome and the quality of life.
You can do the same!
I have always felt that our experience as patients is way harder than it needs to be. Why is it that every patient has to begin a learning process from scratch without the benefit of the experience of others? Is it really necessary to reinvent the wheel at each diagnosis? When you think about it, we are all standing on the shoulders of thousands of patients who have been through our situation and probably much worse. The problem is the patient never gets any benefit of the experience of others while the doctors do. We patients tend to be isolated in the flow of information, experience of others and we emotionally cut off by a medical system whose focus is strictly clinical.
In telling my own story I realized how valuable my experience has been for others who continue to struggle or are helping someone navigate through the healthcare system. People learn best from others like them. And that is why my company Smart Patient Academy created the Stories With A Purpose (SWAP) platform. The goal of the program is to break down the silos of valuable wisdom, insight and experience that stay bottled up in our own memories, infrequently shared with those who could truly benefit. The healthcare delivery system needs to change. You and I as patients can make this happen.
As people tell their stories we have found that there is almost always one dominant character trait or attribute that enables each of us to navigate through the emotional battlefront that nobody every talks about. So we have organized our podcasts both by medical condition as well as by human virtue. For example, I personally used "Humor" to joke my way through the process. It is just my way of coping and working the system. (Listen to some of the Vignettes we have posted and see if you agree.) Or get a taste of "Persistence", "Courage", or "Resourcefulness" – all characters that have used their God-given virtues to improve their own outcomes dramatically.
Finally in an effort to continue the learning process we have developed the Forum where you can interact directly with one of the guests you heard. Or you may have a story of your own to tell in the forum. Here is where you can help or be helped directly. Don't be shy!
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Thanks so much for stopping by. We wish you all the best and look forward to getting your feedback and insights.