Health care is changing rapidly as new diagnostic tests, drugs, and treatments are developed each day. The challenge for consumers, physicians, nurses, and hospitals is to stay on top of all the new advances and incorporate them into higher standards of care.
If you have a medical problem, keeping up with changes in medicine is just as important to you.
Fortunately, many medical organizations make it part of their work to conduct research; collect and evaluate information on new technology, drugs, and devices; and keep consumers up to date.
Some information can be found through medical centers’ call centers and hospital Web sites that offer information on illnesses and conditions.
Publications, fact sheets, and newsletters published by experts and medical centers can also provide useful information on new services. They can help you understand new developments and show you how to act on the information.
Health information libraries, which can be found at some hospitals, have books and pamphlets written for patients and their families. Use them to learn about diagnostic tests, research an illness, or sort out treatment options.
Support groups are another way to learn more. Most groups focus on a particular illness or issue such as AIDS, depression, cancer, chronic illness, and nutrition. Or try to attend a free lecture on a “hot topic” by a top physician in your area.
Increased health knowledge benefits you as a patient through:
• Better preparation for doctor and hospital visits
• Greater involvement in medical decisions
• High satisfaction with care
• More confidence in ability to manage one’s own care
• Stronger focus on family support
• Less anxiety and more peace of mind