About four months ago, my wife called me into the kitchen to listen to a fascinating discussion on the radio between a noted cardiologist and a brilliant nationally recognized patient advocate. I listened intently as the doctor's guest espoused everything that was important to me in terms of my interest in patient rights. I soon found out more about the man. His name is Leslie D. Michelson, an attorney from California, who is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Private Health Management, which is "a unique patient-focused company dedicated to helping individuals and corporate clients obtain exceptional medical care". Leslie is also the author of a recent best-selling book called The Patient's Playbook. I immediately purchased the book and could not put it down. It is exceptionally written and filled with stories that really hit home about patients, many of who were quite sick, who despite their journey from specialist to specialist, could not get a proper diagnosis. Leslie calls this the "specialist shuffle" and sadly, too many of us have been through this. We are exposed to unnecessary testing and treatments that cost a great deal of money, cause us great anguish and pain, and we still do not have an answer as to why our back hurts or we can't feel sensation in our hand, or countless other improperly diagnosed medical conditions. It is frustrating, it is stressful, and it can literally cut off years from our life.
Prior to founding PHM, Leslie was the CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and also worked with the United States Department of Health and Human Services. I have never met the man, but I feel I know him well by the stories he shares in his book and the advice he provides to the reader. The book serves as a guidebook to being a proactive patient, which is exactly what our The Power of the Patient Project is all about. The reader is taken through the entire process of being a patient from choosing the right primary care physician, to dealing proactively in the emergency room for ourselves or for the people we love, to how to handle serious illness, plus all of the points in between.
In the weeks ahead, I plan to refer back to this superb book, but this week, I want to share Leslie's formula for advocating when we or someone close to us is really sick. The first step is immersion, learning everything we can about our illness and finding doctors who are experts. As a consumer health information specialist, I have helped patients take this first step and find accurate and valuable resources that educate them about their conditions. Leslie stresses that we can waste precious time if we don't assertively find the best doctor(s) we can who know the most about our particular condition. The second step is to make sure we have been properly diagnosed and get second and third opinions from the experts we have identified. He cautions us not to rush into surgery, and to not accept the first diagnosis we receive. It might be the wrong diagnosis. Rather, we need to ask questions and keep asking more questions until we feel comfortable that we are on the absolute best track toward the right diagnosis and a treatment plan. The third step, after doing our research, is to identify that best treatment option and the best doctor or team of doctors to coordinate the treatment plan. The fourth step is to make sure that the doctors we have chosen are communicating with each other and working as a team for our benefit even if those doctors are not in the same city. Our entire medical care team should be constantly collaborating with one another so everyone working to save our life is on the same page. Through fascinating story after fascinating story, Leslie illustrates each of these guidelines, and offers a wealth of valuable information to make us better consumers of healthcare.
I have never met Leslie D. Michelson, but I know he believes in what we are doing here on the east coast though our patient education work, and I truly admire the work that he and his team in California are doing every day to benefit patients who need his helping hand to find the best medical care they can possibly find. I encourage everyone to read The Patient's Playbook. It is indeed a great read that could literally save our lives, and I am very grateful I have come to know him and his work.
Bob Kieserman is Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Administration at the Arcadia University School of Global Business where he was the Program Director of the Healthcare Administration Program for over 20 years. He is also a practicing medical librarian focusing on consumer health information librarianship. Prior to joining Arcadia, Bob was the CEO of one of the country's leading continuing medical education companies and prior to that served as Assistant to the Deans of the Temple University School of Medicine. He was also a Special Lecturer in Medical Practice Management at Howard University College of Medicine and the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. Highly respected by both clinicians and administrators throughout the country, he is the author of four books on medical practice management. Bob's passion is educating patients about their rights and empowering patients to be better consumers of the healthcare delivery system.