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Patient Doctor Consultation with Decision Services Representative on hand

Patient Doctor Consultation with Decision Services Representative on hand

In today’s Wall St. Journal there is an article on the Decision Services offered at my wife’s breast cancer clinic, the Carol Franc Buck Breast Cancer Center at UCSF: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203674704574328570637446770.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

Decision Services is a great resource when you are overwhelmed with all the information and emotions when first diagnosed. At the time I thought nothing of the services. Now that I look back on it, the resources and advice for helping to manage our experience were invaluable:

– My wife and I watched many DVDs, pamphlets and other articles together,
– Prepared countless questions for our visits
– Reviewed stats together
– Went over online research made available to us
– Reviewed our notes of our meetings and prepared follow up questions

In this information age, services like this are so important to have. Patients have so many questions and thoughts running through their head that they sometimes miss what is being said to them, forget to ask the questions that they wanted to ask and feel frustrated and left out. Many times my wife would hear one thing and I would hear another. We’d just review the notes taken by the notetaker and we’d have our discussion resolved. I could even use this in my everyday life.

The service provided interns who took great notes during our visits before, during and after our visits to make sure we understood everything that was said in our visits and to help us get more informed answers from my wife’s doctors. We often submitted laundry lists of questions before each visit and they were prepared with their answers before we came in for each appointment. We all know how we forget what they tell us during those visits because we are so worried, but they provided great notes from our appointments.

Yes, that is my wife featured in the article’s photos.

As we reach the aage of health reform in the US, services like these will become more invaluable as we help put some control back in the care of the patients. There are many early adopters of such services such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, The Wellness Community, the Mendocino Cancer Resource Center, Breast Cancer Connections, the Humboldt Community Breast Health Project, and (abroad) the Edinburgh Cancer Centre.

The entire team at the Breast Care Center, led by Laura Esserman, is blazing new trails in health care. Check out https://www.breastcancertrials.org/bct_nation/home.seam and http://www.athenacarenetwork.org/ for other innovations from this group!