Monday, October 14, 2013

I Am A Disruptive Woman In Health Care

I am a disruptive woman in healthcare.

I don’t take no for an answer.

I don’t accept second-rate treatment at the hands of doctors, nurses, or other medical staff.

I believe in health advocacy and self-advocacy.  I believe in self-determination and patient-centered care. 

I believe that everyone has a right to a second opinion.

I know for a fact that it’s not all in your head, or my head, and that chronic illness is a reality for millions of women in this country. 

I have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 

I’m a chronic illness blogger.  I blog for hope.  I blog for change.

I’m a patient-advocate in the making.

And I am a disruptive woman.


Are you a disruptive woman (or man)?  If not, you should be!

Monday, October 7, 2013

New City, New Care = So Far, So Good

Well, establishing care in New York hasn’t been as easy as I’d hoped, but the care that I have received so far, other than at the student health center, has been pretty good.

I have student health insurance, so I have to get referrals from the student health center.  I went there, and was honestly less than impressed, but have basically set up a relationship so there is someone I  can e-mail there when I need a referral.  This means I do not need to make the trip to the student health center every time I need a referral, and I think this relationship works well for all parties involved.  I don’t think they really want to deal with my complicated situation, and I’m not sure I really have a lot of faith in trusting them to deal with my complications.  (And I don’t think this is necessarily unique to this one student health center, certainly my prior experience suggests otherwise)  So now that, that’s out there…

I got a recommendation for a primary care doctor, but when I tried to get an appointment with her, I was told she was no longer accepting new patients.  Strike one.  When I called to get an appointment with the rheumatologist I wanted, I wasn’t able to get an appointment until the beginning of December.  Strike two.      

But that was a function of me not having my new insurance information until the beginning of September – and the student health center being unwillingly to help me set up care over the summer – because I think I’d be crazy if I tried to suggest that there is a shortage of doctors in New York City.

Anyway, I was able to pick a different primary care doctor, who I was able to see a few weeks ago, and she gave me a recommendation for another rheumatologist, who I will be seeing at the beginning of November.

So far, I’ve noticed some major differences from the care that I had previously that I am pretty impressed with:

They actually – both doctors and support staff – know how to use their electronic medical records (EMR) system.  My previous care team, a year into using the system, still had no clue what they were doing, and this caused a lot of extra work for me.  But my new care, not only do they push the system on patients, but they actually utilize it, and do it well!  And it’s funny because they actually use the same system that my previous doctors use.

In New York, while I was able to transfer my prescriptions, I was told that they only allow one refill with the transfer, so I would need to get new prescriptions.  My doctor submitted all of them directly to my new pharmacy so they will be there when I need refills. 

Another major difference was that my blood was drawn in the exam room, rather than being sent to a lab somewhere else, either onsite or offsite.  That’s a nice change! 

I also didn’t feel like a sick person.  Maybe that’s a weird thing to say, but I didn’t.  Maybe part of it was the fact that I didn’t have to go sit in the waiting room of a lab where I was the youngest person, and everyone looked at me with pity.    

Every time I call to get an appointment, as soon as I give them my information, they say How can we help you today, Miss Rott?  I don’t feel like I ever got that kind of respect from my previous medical care team.  In fact, the support staff were usually pretty disrespectful, if not downright mean. 

And so I have to wonder, what’s the difference?

As my boyfriend pointed out to me, there are several major hospitals in the area, and because they are competing for patients, the quality of care and treatment that patients receive is better than it might be elsewhere.  For example, where we lived previously, there was really only one game in town as far as a major teaching hospital was concerned, and so, knowing this, I think they skimped a bit sometimes.  Or maybe they just didn’t care because they knew they were the only game in town. 

It’s not necessarily that I didn’t receive good care, but the extra touches weren’t there.  And I guess I didn’t really know they weren’t there until I now have care where they actually exist. 

Sometimes change is a good thing!  And sometimes a little competition is healthy!