Resources to help everyone participate fully in their health care written in Vermont
Be an Engaged Patient
Knowledge is power. And when it comes to your health, that’s especially true. Being an engaged patient means being more informed about your health. It means having the power—and the information you need—to ask better questions, to expect better, more coordinated care, and, ultimately, to be a partner in improving the way you manage and maintain your health.
An engaged patient plays an active role in his or her care...
'e-Patients are Empowered, Engaged, Equipped and Enabled.'
–Dave deBronkart, also known as “e-Patient Dave”
Why You Should Be an e-patient
When you are sick or have a health emergency, you trust that your doctor knows what symptoms to look for, what tests to order, and what you need to do to get healthy. But more actively participating in your care—by communicating effectively with your doctors and nurses, researching and asking about treatments and alternatives, making and keeping appointments, and committing to a treatment plan—can often help you get better, faster.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the more engaged you are as a patient, the more likely you are to find the right doctors to care for you; seek out services that will help you stay healthy; make lifestyle choices such as eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking; and get the early diagnosis and treatment you need to prevent a health condition from becoming more serious.
How to become an e-patient
Patient engagement is far from a new concept—with roots that can be traced to the self-help movement of the 1970s. So, you don’t have to be a pioneer or have a medical background to be a more engaged health care consumer. What you need is access to information, a willingness to ask questions, and a meaningful relationship with your health care providers.
These days, the Internet, wearable technology, cloud computing, and software advances pave the way for you to play a more active role as a patient. Thanks to websites like WebMD.com, devices like FitBit® and other activity trackers, and literally thousands of online support groups and communities, you can now visit your doctor armed with more information than ever before.
And your doctor or specialist is more equipped to provide you with better and more coordinated care, too. Simply put, your doctors’ access to information such as electronic health records (EHRs), real-time test results, and other important health information is good for you.
Here at VITL, we believe that the more information you have, the better equipped you will be to participate in meaningful decisions. We're working on making health information available to everyone involved in providing your health care through a safe and secure statewide technological infrastructure. Which will eventually mean real-world results for you, including better health care, faster diagnosis, lower medical bills, and fewer unnecessary tests and procedures. So, while we help your providers have the information they need to keep you healthy, you can take steps to become more informed—and engaged—as a health care consumer.
What you can do right now
to become a more empowered patient
- Ask your doctor’s office if they have a patient portal—and sign up for it.
Patient portals make it possible for you to request appointments, communicate directly with your health care providers, and get easy, secure online access to your health records.
- Give your consent to share your health data on the Vermont Health Information Exchange.
Allowing access to your electronic health information lets your health care providers work more efficiently together to treat your illness or injury—at lower costs to you.
- Know your health information privacy rights.
You have a right to see or get a copy of your medical records as well as a right to keep your health information confidential and secure.
- Protect your electronic health information.
Using strong passwords, being careful about what you post on social media, and making sure to use trusted apps and wireless networks on your mobile devices are just a few ways you can help keep your health information private and secure.
- Use a self-monitoring device.
From counting steps, to monitoring how you eat and sleep, wearable sensors and mobile apps can help you track and manage your health.
- Find a support group.
Whether in person or on the Internet, a patient support group can help you stay focused on your fitness goals or feel less isolated if you’re faced with a major illness.
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU GET STARTED
We know there are lots of factors that influence your ability to engage in your care, and that some people may be more comfortable doing so than others. But engagement in your health care is worth the time and effort. There are lots of resources—online and in your community—to help you get started. Here are just a few:
A website and online community devoted to promoting the concept of participatory medicine
Take three minutes to learn about the benefits of electronic health records and health IT
Cancer survivor, blogger, and international spokesperson for patient engagement
Action plans and other tools to help you to be a “prepared patient”
A health platform inspired by online dating
An effort to raise awareness about what people can do to provide and receive better care
Health and wellness support groups for a variety of conditions