Monthly Archives: October 2012

Michael J. Barry, MD

The President’s Corner: October 2012

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time engaging in thoughtful discussions about shared decision making (SDM) in a number of forums around the world. My travels began on the other side of the globe at the Australian Disease Management Association’s 8th Annual National Conference. This year’s theme was “Working Towards Integrated Chronic Disease Management”; topics of discussion included SDM, health literacy, evaluation, quality and safety, and consumer engagement. I had the opportunity to be part of a panel highlighting the quality imperative for involving patients in health care decisions though a SDM process. Closer to home, I was invited to participate in Kaiser Permanente’s Decision Making Summit, “Integrating Shared Decision Making Across the Continuum of Care.” Participants discussed how SDM could be implemented in different areas of care from prevention, to diagnosis and treatment, to palliative care. And most recently, I found myself in sunny Arizona at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM). This event is always a treat for me, as it is an opportunity to see the results of the hard work of many of our colleagues. Continue reading

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Health Literacy Wordle

Do You Understand Medicalese?

Health literacy affects everyone. Imagine you are trying to order food in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language. Just like learning a foreign language, understanding health information is a challenge — one that everyone will face at least once in his or her lifetime. Health literacy, as defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” According to the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy report, only 12% of adults in the U.S. are proficient in reading, understanding and acting upon medical information, and even these individuals struggle to understand complex health information at times. This critical gap has significant medical consequences for society. Continue reading

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Ira Byock, MD

Author Spotlight: Ira Byock, MD

“We need to move past our hesitation in talking about dying and accept the fact that we are not immortal,” says Dr. Ira Byock, author of The Best Care Possible and director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “Once we accept that fact, we can focus on how to provide the best care possible for those who are incurable.”
For more than 30 years, Ira has worked with patients and their families to make difficult decisions about care. “The fundamental nature of illness is personal,” says Ira. The palliative care approach lends itself well to improving the quality of life and personal experience of serious illness, including the dying process. Continue reading

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