Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Decoding Medical Gobbledygook - read the book free online !

One of my friends asked me , Who is this book intended for ? Is it meant for doctors ? or is it meant for patients ?

I found this question interesting. Health literacy is considered to be a fairly dry topic and most of the books which have been written about it so far have been fairly academic . They are designed for health professionals , to help them communicate better with their patients. There are also quite a few bestsellers which are written for patients , to help them to be able to communicate properly with their doctor. However, most books address either the doctor, or the patient, not both.

I feel this is a very artificial distinction. After all , communication is a two-way street and any book which talks about health literacy has to address both the parties in the communication process - doctor and patient.  This is true for multiple reasons.
For one , it's important for doctors to be able to look at life from the patient's perspective. It helps to improve their empathy , and if patients are confident that the doctor understands what they're going through when they are ill, they are more likely to be able to form a happy partnership with their doctor. This is why doctors should read the sections which are written for patients.

Patients should also read not only the chapters which are addressed to them, but also the sections which are addressed to doctors. If you want to communicate properly with someone , you need to understand their worldview and their thought processes.

Even more importantly, we need to remember that decision makers in the healthcare industry - CEOs of hospitals ;  CEOs of pharmaceutical companies ; and policymakers are usually laypeople. All of them have been patients at some point , and reading this book will help them understand some of the challenges which doctors encounter when trying to talk to patients.

Finally, it is my hope that enlightened patients will consider requesting their doctor to read this book, so that he can improve their his communication skills , and take better care of them !
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