Your Responsibility as an Outpatient

There are two separate medical scenarios: being an “out-patient” in which you are being treated by a doctor when not in a hospital; and being an “inpatient” in which you are being treated by a doctor while in a hospital.

The amount of time your doctor is able to spend with you has not kept pace with the amount of time it would take him to tell you all the things he now knows that can help you live your longest, healthiest life.

Studies show that more than 4 out every 10 patients with chronic illness get only partially treated. Thus many patients cannot expect to live their longest, healthiest lives just from advice their doctor has the time to tell them.

And we now know about the value of preventative medicine interventions about vaccines, pap smears, mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks and son on– so that you can live your longest, healthiest life– but your doctor doesn’t have the time to tell you what you need and to guide you to get it done.2

Studies show that more than 4 out of every 10 patients get only partial advice on prevention, thus many patients aren’t being told what they can do to prevent certain illnesses, and how to catch others in early stages, before they suffer avoidable complications or early death.

The only thing that I can suggest is that you take the imitative to find out what you need to do to live your longest and healthiest life with your chronic illness. You take the initiative to find out what preventative tests you should be taking to give yourself the best chance at living your longest and healthiest life. And you may also need to take the initiative to get the correct care for your acute illnesses. Only you can do it.

Taking the time and initiative to find information that your doctor doesn’t have the time to tell you is very important.

“There is a sharp, persistent divide between health professionals’ knowledge of what constitutes best practices and the care that is actually delivered”1

“The time needed to meet preventive, chronic and acute care requirements vastly exceeds the total time physicians have available for patient care… Americans receive only about one half the applicable services for acute, preventative, and chronic disease care… The human costs are substantial: poor blood pressure control contributes to more than 68,000 preventable deaths annually. and strict blood glucose control can decrease the risk of complications in patients with diabetes by 25%”2

“We calculated that comprehensive high-quality management of 10 common chronic disease requires more time than primary care physicians have available for all patient care”2

“Health care today is characterized by more to know; more to manage, more to watch, more to do and more people in involved in doing it than at any time in the nation’s history. Our current methods of organizing and delivering care are unable to meet the expectations of patients and their families because the science technologies involved in health care– the knowledge, skills, care interventions, devices and drugs have advanced more rapidly than our ability to deliver them safely, effectively and efficiently”3

Studies, Footnotes, Resources:

  1. Blumenthal, David, and Charles M. Kilo. “A Report Card on Continuous Quality Improvement.” The Milbank Quarterly 76(4) (1998): 625-648
  2. Ostbye, Truls, Kimberly S.H. Yarnall, Katrina M. Krause, Kathryn I. Pollak, Margaret Gradison, and J. Lloyd Michener. “Is There Time for Management of Patients with Chronic Diseases in Primary care? Annals of Family Medicine 3(3) (2005): 209-214
  3. Institute of Medicine. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press, 2001, p. 25