Posts

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.

Introducing Claire Snyman: An Empowered Patient

“Change is the only constant” rings true in my life.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with a rare non-malignant brain tumor after the onset of vertigo and migraines. My son was only four at the time. During my patient journey, I had differing opinions and changes in treatment from the standard of care and realized a few important things. How critical it was to partner with my medical team, how important it was to be active in my health care and be my own advocate and how important it was to keep asking and get a second (or third) opinion if needed.

I started keeping track of all my medical records, educated myself on my condition so I could have informed discussions with my medical team, made a list of questions before each appointment and started to manage my medications and appointments – it was like a full time job!

In 2012, I became acutely ill with vertigo and migraines. I knew something was wrong even after the specialists and the ER doctor sent me home. Because I was active in my health care and educated about my condition, I kept asking questions. It was finally confirmed that my brain tumor had doubled in size. My brain was swollen and I needed brain surgery to survive. I am forever grateful that my husband and I kept on asking questions – it saved my life.

This experience highlighted the importance to me of being your own advocate, putting your health in your own hands and not being a passive participant in your health care. It’s also important to connect, communicate and collaborate with your medical team – in the interests of a better outcome.

After my recovery, I looked for various ways to use my patient journey constructively.

– I co-authored a collaborative study between patients and neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins University to help increase collaboration between patients and health care teams and get more information in the public domain.

–  I am passionate about inspiring people to put their health in their own hands, having personally seen the impact it can make to a person’s life.  I developed The TEAM Approach for Empowering patients  (Track, Educate, Ask, Manage) – a simple and easy-to-remember tool to help individual’s transition to being an active participant in their health care.

I recently spoke at TEDxStanleyPark 2018 on “Your health is in your hands” and how it might save your life – hoping this message will activate others to become proactive in their health care.

I’m a firm believer than when something in life is no longer an option, when a door closes, another door opens. It may be different to what you expected, but if you are open to looking for it – you will find it. That is definitely true for this chapter in my life!