Health care is a double-edged sword. On the one side, sky high costs, insurance rates, and lack of procedures can prevent access (and relief), while the other side can cancel out access as a result of patient’s shirking their responsibilities. Yes, patients have legitimate responsibilities, and acknowledging them is the difference between making a full recovery and getting readmitted to the hospital.

According to the American Medical Association, “patients have the responsibility to communicate openly, to participate in decisions about the diagnostic and treatment recommendations, and to comply with the agreed-upon treatment program.” Following a treatment program is where plenty of patients struggle, especially if they’re suffering from a lifestyle-related condition. A 2007 study found a majority of physicians’ and nurses’ felt “there was a major barrier to the treatment of lifestyle-related conditions due to patient’s unwillingness to change their habits.” And recently, UK researchers found heart attack survivors guilty of a single care lapse (out of the nine they’re instructed at time of hospital discharge) had a 46 percent chance of dying within a month and 74 percent within the year.

Self-care is a vital component to quality health care. It’s not the only component, but patient’s taking it upon themselves to find the right doctor or hospital matters as much as said doctor or hospital’s initial consultation or procedure. The physicians and specialists of the world are human, too, and they’re prone to the same information fatigue and stress that ordinary patients are. It really does take two to achieve optimal health.

The good news is that there are a handful of resources that reign in the overwhelming amount of health care-related information — which doctor to see, for example, and when — and make it palatable (at no additional cost) for any and every individual.


Healthgrades, a website that provides information about physician and hospital quality, already releases annual hospital reports ranking America’s best hospitals based on several factors, including patient satisfaction and mortality rates. It reveals the hospitals best suited for certain procedures, which, for some of us, will mean going outside out insurance network. Now, Healthgrades has released a first-of-its kind, free database that helps consumers make even smarter health care choices.

Dr. Archelle Georgiou, strategic advisor to Healthgrades and former Chief Medical Officer of United Health, gave Medical Daily the run down on how the database works. Users enter their city, state, and zip code, and enter any medical term for a procedure they need or want more information on. The new database includes12,000 different terms associated with 600 different conditions and procedures. Once users decide on a search term, Healthgrades generates the best results in the area. The beauty of the search terms is that it can filter your results.

A New York woman who needs, say, an OBGYN can take the total number of her results (564) and filter by criteria, such as a physician who is board certified, within the insurance network, is recommended by patients, and doesn’t have a history of surgical complications, Georgiou said. The over 500 hundred results simplifies to a handful of doctors that meet the woman’s needs based on a percentage. For example, “Dr. Anderson has a 93 percent match to your needs.” So like, but for doctors.

“The [database] really highlights doctor and hospital experience, satisfaction, and quality,” Georgiou said. “We’re really committed to making it easy to get information since objective data, frankly, is not consumed very much. It’s hard to navigate, figure out and translate into the right choice.”

Using Healthgrades has the potential to empower both patient and doctor responsibility. Each will put more time and thought into their decision, especially doctors who make referrals. “Twelve to 15 percent of specialists get referrals that are not appropriate,” Georgiou said. “It’s a huge waste of time and money.”


Similar to Healthgrades, ZocDoc aims to make medical scheduling much easier — and not just when patients need a major procedure. The service ultimately aims to bridge the broken systems and build a marketplace that gives power to the patients, Jessica Aptman, ZocDoc’s director of communications, told Medical Daily.

ZocDoc basically functions as a 24-hour doctor’s office. It’s a great resource to meet acute needs, as well annual check-ups. Based on the information each patient provides, the service will then populate a supplementary well guide. It’s a quick little checklist that promotes preventive care, Aptman said. ZocDoc also sends patients e-mail reminders about both scheduled and suggested appointments. Perhaps what sets ZocDoc apart from Healthgrades is their unique, verified patient reviews.

“The only way a patient can leave a review is if they booked and attended their appointment through ZocDoc,” Aptman said. “It’s very representative of actual good and bad experiences, which we find is more accurate and trustworthy.”

Patients should also know ZocDoc is always look to improve. Case and point: existing patients frequently asked for the ability to fill out paperwork online ahead of their appointment — and now they can. Bonus: patient paperwork is saved for future visits with (90 percent of) other participating ZocDoc providers. “We really are just solving more and more patient problems,” Aptman said. “Patients should enjoy great health care.”

National Coalition For Sexual Health

Let’s talk about sex, baby — and why more than half of Americans are not getting critical recommended sexual health care services, even when these life-saving services are much easier to obtain through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH) reported 20 percent of men and woman have bothered to test for STIs ad HIV in the past year, and 10 percent of women ages 18-26 have received a single dose of the HPV vaccine series (plural).

With more access than ever to these types of tests, the NCSH has issued a new guide for Americans to take charge of their sexual health. As written on their website, “this guide…focuses on preventive services that can help protect and improve sexual health. The guide explains these recommended services and helps you find and talk with a health care provider.”

To make things even easier, the NCSH offers a one-page outline of the exact services people can now access for low to no cost courtesy of the ACA in addition to the kinds of questions to properly inform your doctor of what’s bothering you.


RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, has dedicated the last 40 years to raising awareness about infertility, providing information to patients, professionals, and the media. Though much has changed over the last several years in terms of fertility treatments, the increase in options has further stressed people out as they are not all covered by insurance, director Barbara Collura told Medical Daily.

This prompted RESOLVE to do a couple of things: launch social awareness campaigns, like National Infertility Awareness Week and monthly conversation themes, in addition to curating The Fertility Scorecard. In partnership with EMD Serono, a global pharmaceutical company, RESOLVE graded each state on how fertility friendly they were in attempt to activate patients living in cities with poor grades. “We know from breast cancer and other health causes that getting involved and doing something can be very empowering; its human nature,” Collura said. “So this scorecard not only raised awareness, but it activated the community [as a whole].”

The scorecard, added Collura, has created something of a competition. Women take a look and wonder why her neighboring state has a better grade than her own. The truth is, only about 50 percent of people have insurance that includes coverage for infertility; the other half requires patients to pay out of pocket. Which Collura said is a huge inequity in our health care system. “Ask anyone whose reproductive system doesn’t work, and they’ll tell you this is a medical issue,” Collura said. “It isn’t new science, isn’t experimental, but tried-and-true medical procedures.”

Women can, and should, go to their state legislator and demand coverage. Any states with mandated benefits for fertility patients isn’t because RESOLVE hired a fancy lawyer or lobbyist, Collura said; it’s because volunteers fought for them. People of any community can use all of these sources to lobby for individual and patient-wide change, too.