Archive for You Bet Your Life!

Chicken Little, Wishful Thinking and the 24 Hour News Cycle

chickenOne frightening and frustrating trend we’ve seen since the 24-hour news cycle became a reality (meaning – since we have all gotten used to, and expect, to get our news updated at anytime, day or night, everywhere) – credibility has taken a nose dive. We want to think we can count on the “facts” as reported, but too often they get blended with the not-quite-facts, the incorrectly extrapolated facts, the just-plain-wrong facts – and of course, pure fiction.

The “Who Can You Believe?” question became even more acute over the last week with the realization that NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who I have always liked and would still like to invite for dinner, thinks it’s OK to embellish the truth. If you would believe his stories, you would think he had been shot down in a helicopter or watched bodies floating in the New Orleans French Quarter after Katrina. Neither is true.

Now, Brian Williams doesn’t give patient empowerment advice.  But other so, and like Brian, they come across as so gosh-darn believable!  The problem is, sometimes they aren’t, and we have to do some due diligence to figure out when they are, or when they aren’t, when their advice is useful, and when it’s not, or even when it’s downright dangerous.

Do I think they are intentionally leading us astray?  Sometimes. Do I think they intentionally give us bad advice?  Sometimes.  Do I think we need to confirm their advice with another, more objective information?  You bet I do. Too often what we see is more Chicken Little or Wishful Thinking and not something we should put any stock in at all.

So where can we patients turn? How do we know what’s objective, what isn’t, what’s worthy of our time, and who we can believe?

That’s Gary Schwitzer’s entire focus – so let me tell you about Gary’s work.

Gary founded HealthNewsReview.org many years ago.  As a journalism professor, teaching his students how to write informational and objective news stories, he was appalled at the shift in direction being taken by large news organizations. That is – they glom on to “news” that isn’t really news, because they think it will catch someone’s eye (or ears) – and not because it’s really useful. Further, sometimes they simply regurgitate a press release from a pharmaceutical or medical device company, like “Research Shows that Our New Drug Cures Cancer!”  The problem is, too many people believe it.

But smart patients don’t believe any of it until they have investigated further and assessed its veracity.

I encourage you to take a look at Health News Review to see exactly the criteria Gary’s reviewers use to assess health and medical news stories. You might also be interested in his post about conflicts-of-interest among national TV anchors and medical correspondents. Eye-opening.

Gary’s criteria for assessing news stories are front and center, right on his homepage.  Additional information can be found here:  How to Assess Medical Studies

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Do you have advice or a story to share that illustrates this post?  Please share in the comments below.

Want more great tips for smart, empowered patients?
Read my book:  You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Healthcare You Deserve)

 

Posted in: Follow the Money, Health /Medical Consumerism, Media, Medical and Research Studies, Patient Empowerment, Patient Safety, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Politics and Medicine, You Bet Your Life!

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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:

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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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Posted in: AdvoConnection, Doctor Communication, Follow the Money, Health /Medical Consumerism, Healthcare Quality, Media, Patient Advocacy, Patient Empowerment, Politics and Medicine, Self Help, You Bet Your Life!

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Uh-oh Video! (Can’t escape it…)

When it comes to TV and video, Al Roker provides one of my favorite quotations:

“They say the camera adds 10 pounds. OK. So I figure I must be standing in front of 10 cameras.”

Oh, yes, Al. I know how you feel….

However — I’ve decided to come out of my video-avoidance closet to share the following with you all.

First — my excitement at the invitation a week ago to appear on MSNBC to speak to a problem that I actually cited a few years ago – that July is the worst month of the year to be hospitalized. Why? Watch and see!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

(Even got my two cents in about hiring patient advocates!)

So that’s the first one.  But if I’m going to jump in to the world of video, I might as well do it with both feet.  Many of you know that I am brought in to speak at various conferences and meetings across the US and Canada.  I enjoy speaking!  So in my attempts to do even more of it, I’m told I need to have a professional video made.  So, yes, I finally bit that bullet, too, and have uploaded the online version of the opening here.

It’s not like I’ve never done TV before – I have done local TV on a number of occasions.  And broadcast isn’t the problem – ferheavensake, I have hosted a radio show for 4+ years!  But video, in general, has just always been a step I’ve avoided.

Until today.  So, OK, I feel better now.  [[gulp]]

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Posted in: Healthcare Quality, Hospitals, Media, Medical and Research Studies, Patient Advocacy, Patient Empowerment, Surgery, You Bet Your Life!

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Catching Up – You Bet Your Life!

I have been remiss… not posting for two months… and plead the fact that there just are not enough hours in the day! Of course, I’ve kept up with blog posts at About.com – all the commentary about healthcare reform, new hiccups in the system we patients must deal with and more. But yes, this, my personal blog, has been neglected. Apologies.

One of the things that has been keeping me busiest (as you can imagine) is talks about my book, book signings and interviews. It’s been fun so far! So I thought I’d share some links to videos, podcasts and more.

  • I had fun talking to Dave Bullard from our local NPR station, WRVO about You Bet Your Life! You can listen to the podcast here. You’re welcome to listen to the entire conversation!  But if you want to hear just the section about You Bet Your Life, then you’ll find it begins right at 33 minutes and runs a total of 5 minutes.
  • My chat with Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau for her syndicated weekend radio show was a blast, too!  We were able to cover quite a bit more ground than my conversation with Dave — I thank Kathleen for her enthusiasm about You Bet Your Life! Please do listen to this podcast because it will give you quite a bit of perspective about why you must take control of your own healthcare.


Great fun at book signings, too:

  • At Creekside Books in Skaneateles, NY — great questions from the audience and many thanks to both the owner, Erika Davis and Laura Ponticello from Laura’s List of Books for Women.  They made my book launch just perfect!
  • A big thanks to Marie Kulikowsky from Barnes & Noble in Dewitt, NY for handling what will be two book signings!  Yes — in an example of some of the most marvelous timing, the Syracuse Orange NCAA basketball game was scheduled for the exact hour as my book signing (hey!  I got there first!)  I emailed those on my list and told them we would reschedule the basketball game.  Afterall, I have a pretty good sense of what my friends’ priorities are 🙂 — however — about two dozen people showed up anyway – including friends Leslie Rose McDonald and Cindy Masingill — here are the three of us:

….. and yes…. we have rescheduled for May 6th, 7 PM at Barnes & Nobel, Dewitt.

  • Thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many people and answering so many great questions at the University of South Florida / Sarasota Lifelong Learning, too.  Truly engaged emPatients — a real pleasure.
Centered on Syracuse: How Trisha Torrey found a new career

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So at least you know I haven’t been snoozing…. I do want to sell books, but honestly, I’m making next to nothing on those books. More than that, I want you to be an emPatient, too… it’s important. Especially knowing the road healthcare reform will take us down.

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Posted in: Health /Medical Consumerism, Healthcare Quality, Media, Patient Empowerment, You Bet Your Life!

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