How to Save Your Life in a Complex Health Care System

Health care systems are complex and overburdened. This is not unique to certain developed or developing countries – it’s a global challenge. Being able to provide optimal health care at a cost-effective price, without doing harm, is a daunting task for any country, government or organization.

This is not only because of the complexity of health care systems and the human bodies they interact with, but because we are dealing with human lives.

I came face-to-face with the challenge of complex health care systems when I was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor.

I was no longer a ‘routine patient’. I had multiple specialists, multiple appointments and multiple medications. Life and health care became far more complex. Feelings of uncertainty, powerlessness and being afraid were very real.

As a manager at work who dealt with multiple projects, timelines and teams, my immediate response was to look at my health care as a manager. I knew that teams became effective with good management – surely the same could be true for my health care?

I came up with a simple approach to help me navigate the complex waters of the health care system. I called it my T.E.A.M Approach (Track, Educate, Ask, Manage). My family, support group, and doctors were a critical part of this T.E.A.M. Having an ‘approach’ to help me manage my diagnosis, made me feel less powerless, afraid and uncertain.

I never realized the true importance of being an activated patient and having a T.E.A.M Approach until it saved my life – when I was misdiagnosed.

It dawned on me how simple actions by patients and care partners might save a life. I wanted to share this message so it might help other patients, care partners and health care professionals – connect, communicate and collaborate – in our complex health care systems. Over the past decade, there has definitely been a shift from passive to activated patients as patients and health care professionals recognize the benefits. In general, activated patients have better clinical outcomes, better patient experiences, tend to seek preventative care sooner and have lower costs.

This inspired me to speak at TEDx on How to Save your Life in a Complex Health Care System and write a book: ACTIVATE – How to Save your Life in a Complex Health Care System.

My book discusses the challenges faced within health care systems and how patients can be more proactive participants in their health care management. It’s a quick reference guide for patients, care partners and health care professionals looking for guidance and solutions on how to put one’s health in one’s own hands and collaborate with health care teams.

If you are inspired to learn more and help spread this important message, ACTIVATE will be available for FREE on Amazon for 5 days only from 26 – 30 April 2018. Click here.

Put your health in your own hands – you might save a life – yours or someone you love.


Read more about Claire and her story here.

Claire Snyman is an author, blogger and advocate for patient and healthcare collaboration. She is passionate about inspiring people to put their health in their own hands. After her diagnosis with a non-malignant brain tumor and brain surgery, she realized the importance of partnering with her healthcare team and becoming her body’s own advocate. She has co-authored a collaborative scientific study between neurosurgeons and patients and has developed a TEAM Approach for Empowering patients. She recently spoke at TEDxStanleyPark 2018 and has spoken at various other health-related conferences. Her key focus is looking for ways to guide people to put their health in their hands and work with their healthcare partners to achieve better outcomes. She recently published her second book; ACTIVATE: How to Save your Life in a Complex Health Care System. Claire volunteers with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada as the chair of the BrainWAVE BC program.