Thursday, July 25, 2013

Make Better Healthcare Decisions for Your Family with the Help of Healthgrades #Sponsored

Disclosure:  I participated in a campaign on behalf of MomCentral Consulting for Healthgrades. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Have you ever been fortunate enough to have your dream job?  Maybe you are working in a field you always wanted to, or started your own business.  Like they say, "Life works in funny ways."  I always wanted to work in the healthcare field.  While in high school, my dream was to become an open heart surgeon.  I wanted to be able to hold a heart in my hand and help bring patients back to life.  To make my dream a reality, I enrolled at in a Pre-Med program at a local college, only to have to re-evaluate my future when I was diagnosed my freshman year with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. 

As I contemplated life and wondered what I would study and ultimately pursue as a career, I found myself drifting towards human services and community health.  I ended up receiving a BS in Public Health, with a concentration in community health education.  After college, I found myself working different jobs -- first as an Activity Director at an Assisted Living facility, and then as a Sr. Counselor in a drug rehab program for moms and their children.  Then, in 2004, I landed what would ultimately be my dream job -- well, my dream job has always been to become a mom, which I am to two beautiful and healthy girls -- but, my career dream job was as a health educator.  I worked in a hospital setting, but was able to travel into the community and local schools and teach children and families about health issues and concerns.  I loved procuring the health education we handed out at health fairs, events, etc., and met some amazing people along the way.  But, like many jobs in life, my job, along with my 3 other colleagues in our small office was terminated as a way to save money for the company I worked for.  They thought that by eliminating our jobs and provide patients with printable health education material found online, that they would save $$$.  But, I don't think they thought it through well enough from a consumer/patient's perspective.  Yes, they were providing health education material to them, but it was either outdated, didn't pertain to their specific health needs, or was too hard to understand, especially for those of non-English speaking backgrounds.  In the past, confused patients and their families would seek out my office and have us sit with them to talk about new diagnosis', as well as help them navigate next steps -- let it be 2nd opinions or finding healthcare providers and facilities that could provide the proper care and treatment they needed and deserved.  

While I was frustrated and upset that I had lost my dream job, I felt bad for the patients, as I knew that they would be losing out on a much needed service that they had come to rely on and benefit from since I began working in my role in 2004.  It wasn't until I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer in 2008 that I found myself in the same boat as those patients/families that were left without my services.  I had a diagnosis that not only scared the heck out of me, as I thought it was a death sentence, but I had no idea what to do next.  My local hospital was not equipped with experienced head and neck oncologists, as they only had two oncologists, who specialized in breast cancer.  They quickly sent me out of state to the hospital I worked at and was let go from, again, only to be left without proper care.  It wasn't until I remembered a service I used to refer patients and families to years ago -- Healthgrades -- that I was finally feeling more in control of my diagnosis and could navigate the next steps.  

"Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Denver, Healthgrades is the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. Today, more than 225 million visitors use the Healthgrades websites to find, evaluate, compare, select, connect and communicate with physicians and hospitals that best meet their treatment needs. 
Consumers choose Healthgrades and are empowered through use of Healthgrades objective information about clinical outcomes, satisfaction, safety, and health conditions to make more informed healthcare decisions and take action. Our physician profiles are the most current and comprehensive available. Our online decision support tools enable consumers to research and compare doctors across a range of professional and personal attributes, and book appointments online. We also help consumers better manage their health and prepare for a visit to the doctor’s office."

I ended up finding highly skilled head and neck oncologists and surgeons at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass., and called to set up an initial appoitment with them.  When I arrived to meet the team of doctors, who would ultimately help put me in remission (5 years as of May 2013, YAY!!!), I felt like I was where I needed to be.  If it wasn't for the Healthgrades website, I would not have found these doctors, who specialized in my rare cancer, and can't imagine where I would be today.

And, now that I am a mother, I have the added responsibility of staying on top of my family's health care needs, and finding the appropriate doctors and skilled facilities for their care.  Like I shared in the past, both of my girls were diagnosed with pyloric stenosis a few weeks after birth and needed to have corrective surgery.  I turned to Healthgrades to find the doctors/hospital I would end up taking them for treatment and follow up care.  I can't tell you how much of a relief it was to have access to this website, to help navigate through the hundreds of doctors and hospitals in my area.  And, then, I had to use Healthgrades again when Arabella was diagnosed with a small hole in her heart at 6 months old.  I ended up seeking medical care from the same hospital the girls had their pyloric stenosis surgery, after using Healthgrades.  We are crossing our fingers and praying that the hole will close on its on and that she will not need surgery at age 3 or 4.  But, if she does, I will be a better informed consumer because I know I can count on the Healthgrades website to help me find the highly skilled, specialized doctors my family deserves when seeking out medical care.

With all the medical scares and illnesses that myself and my immediate family has been through over the years, I don't leave anything to chance anymore.  Once we hear a diagnosis, if I am not satisfied with it, I will not hesitate to seek out a second opinion.  And, when it comes to finding the right doctors and hospitals for treatment and care, my first call to action is visiting the Healthgrades website to start my research on the appropriate doctors and hospitals right for my family.

While our family is always our top priority, we as women also have to look after our own health, and makes sure we are keeping up with routine screenings and exams.  Healthgrades recently released their Healthgrades’ Women’s Health Report 2013 report, which is a must read for all women.  "Healthgrades' 2013 Women's Health Report was developed to educate women so that you know before you go when it comes to women's health and treatment provided in U.S. hospitals. Too many women proceed blindly; assuming healthcare is equal across not only gender but also in neighboring hospitals. This report evaluates the quality of healthcare for women in American hospitals and recognizes top-performing hospitals throughout the country for their achievement in addressing a variety of women's health issues. Healthgrades evaluates clinical outcomes for women not only in the female-specific specialties of maternity care and gynecologic surgery, but also in orthopedic, cardiovascular, and critical care.

"Lean In", the theme of this year's report, builds on the popularity of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook's, best-selling book. According to Healthgrades , when we approach our health and the care we receive, we need to lean in, ask questions, investigate options and take charge of our healthcare futures."

As I read through the report for the first, I was shocked to read the following about Infant Mortality an Important Indicator of the Health of America:

Beyond the discussion about maternity and gynecological care for women, the report goes on to talk about and compare women vs. men when it comes to heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases, treatment of bone and joint conditions.  Everything in this is interesting to read, and will have you re-evaluating our current health risks and concerns, and hopefully make you take charge of your entire family's health (including yours), so that you don't become a statistic.

Please make time to download and read the Healthgrades’ Women’s Health Report 2013 report found here -- as well as share the link with family and friends.  You never know when you may be faced with a life threatening illness or find your child needing specialized medical care.  The last thing you want to have to worry about during this stressful time is if you are choosing the right doctors and hospital for treatment.  Healthgrades will help put your mind at ease, helping you research and find the proper care your family deserves!

Disclosure:  I participated in a campaign on behalf of MomCentral Consulting for Healthgrades. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

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