Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just So You Know

As the health care debate swirls around us, I've found myself searching for accurate information to parse out from the hysteria. The reality is that when we're in need of medical care, all of us want access to good doctors, quality of care and affordable options. Our current system isn't providing that for many people in many situations.

Meredith writes about how she'd call her vet if she was in need of end of life care, based on her experiences with her pet Itty recently. It's a sad commentary. She and Daphne Leigh Swancutt have been writing about health care issues and communication over at their blog Just So You Know.

In Daphne's post Talking Trash, she writes about all the jargon in the health care debate and how "regular folks" are being treated like outsiders in the health care reform discussions. She emphasizes the importance of reducing jargon to terms - like this - Comparative Effectiveness Reform becomes

Seeing what treatments work better than others, or
· Seeing is believing

I call this: Observation.

Then there's Meredith's post If u cn rd ths, r u literate? She writes about health literacy, a topic that doesn't get written about often enough.

As healthcare communicators, we are most concerned about that third point: creating materials that inform and educate clearly. I, however, do not limit the audience of potential readers to healthcare consumers (aka, patients). I include practitioners, providers, manufacturers and payors who, in addition to possibly failing to communicate clearly, might not fully understand what the heck they've been reading.

So why am I writing about this on Wheelie Catholic, you might ask? Am I just giving a plug to Meredith and Daphne's new blog? No, not really, although they are both smart and witty writers with professional backgrounds in health care and communications and I wish them the best in their endeavors.

I'm drawing readers' attention to this discussion because as I watch the health care community engage in social media in an unprecedented way, I see a lack of participation by people with disabilities. Certainly people with disabilities are welcome, but more of us need to show up for these discussions, whether we leave comments on blogs dealing with health care issues or engage in online discussions on Twitter. (hash tags: #hcsm, #healthcare) We can also act as a source of information about our own experiences with the health care system, not to mention durable medical providers and other health care related industries. This is a great opportunity to express both our concerns and the way we successfully navigate the health care system to those shaping health care communications.

Let's face it - we have a huge stake in what happens with any reforms and can help shape how social media is used and how communications evolve in health care - but only if we participate.

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