If one would be completely honest with oneself, I think most of us would admit to quite a few issues with the way we participate in our own healthcare. And no, I am not simply talking about taking better care of ourselves and doing “the right things,” but also about being proactive in any actions related to the healthcare we receive, or should receive. All too often we don’t give that enough thought, if any, and when disaster strikes, we are very ill equipped to deal with it, and its consequences. That’s why I believe that every American family should read and keep a copy of the excellent The Take-Charge Patient, the well researched and fantastically organized book by Martine Ehrenclou.
This is one of those books in which the author truly makes you re-evaluate your involvement in the process, and while it is filled with information, it does not become boring or overwhelming at all. All of the information is very practical and explained in an approachable, easy-to-follow and easy-to-understand way. The personal stories from healthcare professionals, patients, and their “advocates” transform a simple “how-to” guide into something much more interesting and give the reader a look behind the scenes and into the inner workings of the health system.
The information deals with all of the important aspects of being truly involved in the process, starting with a lot of helpful information on how to choose the right doctors and tips on building better relationships with the doctor and his/her staff and continuing with how to be really prepared for your office visit and getting the most out of it. While some of those tips might seem a bit obvious, they are all too often overlooked, and it is the patient who will have to suffer the consequences. The following chapters offer helpful advice on medications, preventing medication and medical errors, proper way to research the health conditions, understanding insurance and dealing with it, negotiating the prices for procedures, alternative venues for health care, and much more.
As the author herself stresses in the special note in the Introduction to the book, a lot of the information is repeated in separate chapters for the benefit of those readers who might not read the entire book. While I can understand her reasoning, I would have liked it better if she simply referred those readers to the appropriate passages in other chapters, and kept the book somewhat more concise.
I found The Take-Charge Patient by Martine Ehrenclou to be a definite keeper, and I believe it offers credible and properly researched information, necessary for a solid foundation on which to make better health care related decisions fore ourselves and those we care about.
(Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views)