Post-It Patient Engagement
I changed insurance along with changing day jobs. I’m sure it will come as no shock to those of you who have had this experience: it is kind of a stressful process. There are forms to fill out, benefit cards to wait for in the mail, mail order pharmacy providers to arrange, oh and learning the ropes of a new team/company/position. I have at least 3 or 4 too many things on my plate right now. That doesn’t change the fact that my annual checkup with my primary care doctor and asthma doctor are due.
Changing insurance: the domino effect on appointments
Let’s be real, this was not the best prepared I’ve been for an appointment. Not by a long shot. I did sit down ahead of time for a few minutes to think about my appointment. What questions did I want to ask? Which treatment goals are most important to me this year? I logged on to the new insurance’s website and clicked over to the “price my medications” tool. Thankfully my controller medication is on a low tier co-pay so no need to discuss changing that this go around.
I scribbled down the plan’s approved alternates to my rescue inhaler, Ventolin. My old job’s plan included a wide variety of options in the rescue inhaler category. My new insurance defined just 2 in the lower co-pay tiers, the generic for Xopenex and the brand name inhaler ProAir. I put the post-it note in my planner with these notes as well as the new approved pharmacy's information. A combination of hard work, good choices, and luck has meant that I’ve averaged less than 2 rescue inhalers a year for the last several years. If one of these alternates wouldn’t work, paying out of pocket for my 2 Ventolin wouldn’t break the bank.
Patient engagement in reality
I put all this out of my mind for the next few days as all the responsibilities at the new job were keeping me on my toes. I know many folks picture patient engagement as patients speaking at conferences and providing in-depth meaningful feedback on new medical devices and treatments. However, as a person who spends relatively little of my day worried about my asthma, this is not my normal speed. Patient engagement on my level is looking up some information and sticking a post-it on my planner.
Yes, there are days where Kat goes and participates in clinical research or visits a health care innovation space (thanks, Kerri!). Most days Kat gets up, takes her meds, and goes on with her daily life like any other young woman. Being an engaged patient is what you make of it. Some patients travel to conferences or spur big innovations in the field. Others of us, simply sit on hold and fight a prior authorization fight, or bring good questions to our doctor’s appointment. I suspect I would feel more compelled to a higher level of engagement if my asthma were not well controlled. How do you engage in your care? Are you also sitting in your doctor’s office with a hastily scribbled sticky note of points to discuss?
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?