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Looking for Trisha Torrey, (former) About.com Patient Empowerment Expert?

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You found me!  Here I am!

And I’m moving back in, here to my personal blog. Home. Where I started writing about Patient Empowerment in 2005.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been “home.” Look around!  You can see how dusty it is. I’ve got to wash the curtains and get them back up. Clearly the place needs to be swept and vacuumed.  Those are all tasks I’ll get squared away in the next few days. Give me a week and I may even get some new paint on the walls.

Are you wondering why I’ve moved back home? 

Simple answer – it’s because I was sent packing.

Most of my regulars know about my work at About.com Patient Empowerment.  I started writing for About.com in late 2007 and in all, I published more than 800 articles on topics from how to be an empowered patient, to how to get your medical records, to how to look up CPT codes, to how to deal with an arrogant doctors and much, much more.  In addition to those 800 articles, I wrote more than 1000 blog posts!  And I would still be writing and publishing there today… except that….

I was terminated June 30.  Gone. Kaput. Right in the middle of my contract year.  They decided they didn’t want me anymore and cut me off. Chop chop.

If you want details, here they are.  But that’s not the point of this post.

This post is to tell you that I’m going to lead by example.  That is – throughout my patient empowerment work, the advice I always give to you is to stick up for yourself and to be sure to take responsibility for the situation you’ve been dealt.  Don’t take crap from anyone.  YOU are the most important stakeholder in your own care and to get what you need, you need to take the lead.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing here.  As much as I loved my work with About.com, it’s no longer an option.  So I’m moving back home, gonna spiff up the place, and will begin publishing again right here to keep my commitment to helping you, my readers, get what you need from the healthcare system.

Here are some of my plans:

  • I’ll be writing articles just like I was writing them before – so – what topics would you like to see?
  • One of the recent changes About.com had made was to take away YOUR opportunity to comment on articles and blog posts.  By publishing here, I’ll be restoring that capability.  So please do comment!  I learn from you every time.
  • In the past two years I was sending out only 5-6 newsletters a year from this personal site, but now that there will be no more newsletters coming from me at about.com* I’ll begin sending from here.  You can help too, by letting your friends know.  Here’s the link you need to get signed up.

Together we’ll weather the healthcare system together, whether About.com wants to help in that effort or not.  I’m still Every Patient’s Advocate. They can’t take that away from me.  And I’m here for you.

Are you with me?  Great!

(Now could one of you big strong guys help me move my desk over there – under the window?  It’s a beautiful day, and I don’t want to miss the sunshine.)

I’ll be back soon with some usable healthcare information.  All suggestions welcome :-)

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*about.com will likely continue to send patient empowerment newsletters, and for the foreseeable future, they will be my articles. But there will be nothing new that hasn’t been sent out in a newsletter previously. Feel free to unsubscribe if it gets to be redundant.

More:  At About.com, Experts Are Disposable

Back in Business….

When last I wrote, I’d been catching up after a whirlwind Fall travel season.  And here I find myself catching up after another crazy six weeks…

I don’t just bow out completely, even if it seems so.  I’m blogging in other places, like About.com and the AdvoConnection blog, plus I have been promoting my new marketing book, and building three new websites that haven’t even made a debut yet!

So it occurred to me that that’s what I should be doing here at the Every Patient’s Advocate blog is keeping track of all the activities that help me help you.  And so it shall be.

I think you’ll find I’ve all but stood on my head!

In these past few weeks, among other things:

…….

My new book has come out: The Health Advocate’s Marketing Handbook. It’s written specifically for anyone who works in healthcare in a non-traditional career (anywhere from patients’ advocates to acupuncturists, from massage therapists, to counselors, case managers, navigators and more).  I’ve learned that most of these folks are marvelous practitioners, but aren’t confident about marketing themselves.

If you work in healthcare, helping others improve their health in whatever way – this book can help you – I promise!  Learn more about The Health Advocate’s Marketing Handbook.

I’ve written several new columns for the Syracuse Post Standard and Syracuse.com:

  • An Advocate by Your Side takes a look at private patient advocacy and how hiring a patient advocate can be the smartest move an empowered patient will make.
  • Be a Tattletale!  tells you how to report problems with your healthcare that don’t add up to a lawsuit.
  • Trust Your Gut to Make Medical Decisions talks about the role of intuition in your decision-making.
  • And An Open Letter to Ann Marie Buerkle, My Newly Elected (Republican/Teaparty) Congressional Representative explains why “defund and repeal” Obamacare is the wrong way to go.

Plus I’ve written untold blog posts that have sparked everything from outrage – to big yawns. Among the most inciteful (notice how that word is spelled! – it was intentional):

So you see?  I haven’t left you, my blog reader, out in the cold completely!  I just worked out of (blog)town for awhile.  I’ll be back again next week….

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Where’ve You Been Trisha?

Wish I had a nickel for each of the emails I’ve received from people who have followed this blog of mine…. Where have I been?  It’s a fair question.  It’s been months since I’ve blogged here… because, well, I’ve been doing my Willie Nelson thang… on the road again….

See all those stars on the map?  That’s where I’ve been.

(OK – I didn’t abandon my blogging completely.  I still blog at About.com several times each week, and I blog for patient advocates at the AdvoConnection blog, too…. )

But now I’m finally home to stay for a few weeks and can share with you some of the marvelous places I have visited, and more importantly, the wonderful, dedicated people I have met and learned from!

So many different audiences, so many interests in how patients access, perceive, are helped, and hurt.  From seniors, to medical students, to patient advocates, to providers, to employers, to pharma marketers, to patient activists – 14 different presentations, each one different, and each an opportunity to learn – from those who hoped to learn from me.

Here are a few audience highlights:

Patients:  I love patient audiences.  They have already figured out that they need tools to get better healthcare, so they don’t come to hear me speak unless they are already invested in the information.  They infuse themselves into the conversation – often agreeing with what I have to say, and sometimes disagreeing, too (which is how I learn from them what their hurdles are).  I had several opportunities to speak to groups of patients, on a variety of topics ranging from defensive medicine, to how to stay safe in the hospital, to how healthcare reform will affect us all. I had the privilege of speaking to, and meeting new patient audiences in Syracuse and Liverpool, New York, Sarasota, Florida and San Diego (through a program with Consumer’s Union).

Medical students: I had two opportunities to spend time with health professions students – one of my most important audiences.  If we can get our messages out to these young people while they are in the midst of learning their new skills, we have a better chance of improving our patient experiences.  From the 1 Health Program at the University of Minnesota, which includes not just future doctors, but future nurses, allied health professionals and veterinarians, to the Personalized Medicine 101 course at Upstate Medical – it was a real treat to swap thoughts and ideas with these eager-to-learn young adults.  My thanks to Sue Kostka, RN and Dr. Judith Buchanan at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Robert West at Upstate for believing in my ability to add to their students’ educations.

Employers:  My first opportunity to share patient empowerment with employers took place in New York City in October.  My point to them was that empowering their employees can improve employee health, confidence, and everyone’s bottom line.  I will be frank that I was disappointed in how the message was received – or wasn’t.  To me it is so obvious.  But I don’t believe I did a good enough job making the case.  Back to that employee drawing board which I realize requires more data – data that isn’t yet easily available, as near as I can tell.

Patient Activists:  Do you like that term?  My most recent adventure — some time in Orlando at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s Annual Forum.  The IHI provided scholarships – all expenses paid — to 50 of us who are involved in patient safety initiatives.  An incredible opportunity to meet some of the folks I have been in touch with for years, but have never met.  One of my patient advocate colleagues, Ken Farbstein, suggested it was like going to your class reunion, only this time we were the cool kids.  I’ve written more about this almost overwhelming experience.  We patient activists cannot thank the IHI, in particular CEO Maureen Bisognano and Paul Levy, enough for their recognition of the importance of our work, or their generosity in providing the means to bring us together.

Patients’ Advocates:  OK – I’ll admit it.  Patient advocates are my favorite audience.  I had two opportunities to meet new advocates and talk about this quickly emerging field.  As the proprietor of AdvoConnection for patients and AdvoConnection for advocates, I have a lot to say!  In an ongoing relationship with Michelle Gilmore of Heartwood Health, who holds numerous workshops during the year in Oakland, California plus the NAHAC Conference in Washington, DC where more than 100 advocates convened, it was an incredibly exhilarating experience to be in the presence of these patient advocates and navigators who are dedicated to improving healthcare for individuals, one-on-one.

As you can see, I’ve enjoyed an incredible few months.  As you will experience in the future – I have learned so much more than I imparted during those talks and presentations!

I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you over the next weeks and months, in hopes of improving your healthcare experiences, too.

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PS – If you are looking for a health topic speaker for your event, please take a look at my credentials, then give me a call.

The New Healthcare Reform – Is Patient Reform


While Congress continues its monkey shines, American patients are continuing to get substandard, too-expensive healthcare, or no healthcare at all.  We are getting sicker, and dying, because we can’t get decent care.

However, if you think this post is going to be a call to action for Congress – think again.  While I am a firm believer in healthcare reform, and while I firmly believe we Americans deserve universal care – I also know that if you are already sick, or if you get sick today or tomorrow, or even next year, then healthcare reform isn’t going to help you anyway.

The one BIG benefit to all this healthcare legislative brouhaha, no matter what the outcome so far, is that it has forced us patients to realize that Marcus Welby has left the building.  The paternalistic, omnipotent doctor-as-God who actually cared about our medical outcomes has become an endangered species — one most of us will never meet in our lifetimes. Healthcare reform discussions have made this very clear:  American healthcare is not about health or care.  It’s about sickness and money.

So what have we learned?

That in order to get the good, decent care we patients deserve, we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands. Yes — US.  WE PATIENTS are going to have to do it for ourselves. We need to be EMPATIENTS (empowered patients.)  It’s a shift in mindset that those among us who are smarter and more attentive are realizing isn’t a choice.  If we want decent medical care in the United States (or, it seems, in most countries of the world) — we must make this shift in our thinking.

I hear people poo-pooing the use of the term “empowered.”  They don’t like it because to them, it suggests that someone must GIVE us power.

I don’t see it that way.  I see “empowered” as something we take on ourselves.  We take command of our care.  We take responsibility for acquiring the information we need, then making decisions for ourselves. We do that with a variety of resources, including physicians, other patients, and media information sources like the Internet, libaries and others.

If you think about it — that’s an entirely different way of accessing healthcare than most of us are used to.  It says that, in effect, we will no longer allow healthcare to be done TO us or FOR us.  Instead we will demand it be done WITH us.

That means it’s a whole new type of healthcare reform.
In fact, it’s PATIENT REFORM.

Are you ready to take up that cause for yourself and your loved ones?  There’s no argument over money here… it’s simply a recognition that if we are going to get the health and medical care we want and deserve, we are going to have to make it happen ourselves. It’s an approach to getting the right diagnosis, the right treatment, staying safe, and making sure you don’t lose your health because you can’t afford to access care.  It’s collaborative, research based, and helps us advocate for ourselves.

Here are some places to begin:

•  What’s an Empowered Patient? (or anything at the About.com Patient Empowerment site.)

•  You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Health Care You Deserve)

•  E-Patients.net (e-patients and emPatients describe the same thing – e-patients does not mean you need to understand electronic media.)

•  The Society for Participatory Medicine

These resources link to the dozens of other resources you’ll need, too.

Yes — this is it.  The beginnings of PATIENT REFORM.  Let those in Congress, the ones who have cadillac healthcare plans and don’t really understand what the rest of us deal with continue their bickering and corporate *ss-covering.  Let them continue to kow-tow to special interests who are more about making sure they keep their corners of the healthcare money pie, with little or no regard for patient outcomes.

I declare 2010 to be the Year of the EmPatient! Empowered, participatory — finding far better outcomes than we ever could by depending on Congress or someone else to — maybe — help us out.

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H1N1 Swine Flu Rears It’s Ugly Head – Time for Help and Truth

There’s so little I can say about swine flu that hasn’t already been said.  And to that point, I’ve already said plenty!

In fact, I’ve said it all on my About.com Guide to Patient Empowerment, so I figure it’s best just to give you a master list of all the articles I’ve written, by topic:

H1N1 Swine Flu 2009 – 2010 Frequently Asked Questions

H1N1 Swine Flu – Plan and Prepare to Get the Swine Flu

Should You Fear Pandemic Swine Flu?

When Is Time to Call the Doctor for a Swine Flu Drug?

Should I Call In Sick or Go to Work

Swine Flu Vaccine FAQs – FAQs About Novel H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine and Vaccinations

Side Effects and Other Problems Caused by Flu Vaccines

Swine Flu Myths – Facts, Fiction and Fraud about Swine Flu

Is It Time to Throw a Swine Flu Party?

Bogus, Counterfeit or Unapproved H1N1 Swine Flu Products

H1N1 Swine Flu – Review of Pandemic H1N1 Swine Flu Rumors and Theories

Confirm or Debunk H1N1 Pandemic Swine Flu Conspiracy Theories

Swine Flu H1N1 – Swine Flu H1N1 Websites and Resources

And blog posts that link to additional resources:

Can You Buy Swine Flu Vaccine on the Internet?

Why Not Just Assume You WILL Get the H1N1 Swine Flu?

H1N1 Swine Flu – A Heads Up on More Fraud

Just Assume It’s the Swine Flu

How Healthcare Reform Could Prevent the Spread of Swine (or any) Flu

H1N1 Swine Flu Update – Vaccines, Clinical Trials and Elmo, Too

Swine Flu — and the Crooks Lie in Waiting

Green Monkeys and the Swine Flu – Is the World Doomed?

Have I missed sometime you’d like to read about?  Let me know!  blog(at)EPAdvocate.com.

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