Are You An Empowered Patient?

Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Belief systems, Ken's Blogs

Are You An Empowered Patient?

Are you an empowered patient?

I consider myself one and have even made bold claims that teaching people to be empowered patients will solve the majority of problems associated with our current health care systems. Yet every once in a while I find myself considering what the traits of an empowered patient are.

It seems like many people who begin to have symptoms will go to their doctor to explain what they’re experiencing. They’ll describe the symptoms as best they can, then listen and answer as the doctor asks a few questions, then often walk out with a prescription of some sort. There is little discussion about what might be causing the symptoms, and the patient walks out very grateful that the doctor was able to quickly diagnose their condition and prescribe a solution. The patient follows the doctor’s recommendation, giving no further thought to the original condition.

I don’t consider this to be an empowered patient. I consider this to be a patient that has put their doctor on a pedestal and handed over their own power to the doctor as soon as they entered the doctor’s office.

So how would an empowered patient handle things differently? As soon as the symptoms started to show up, an empowered patient would pause and question what was happening. She might start keeping a journal of what was going on in her life. She would keep track of what she was eating, what things seemed different lately, what stresses were happening in her life, and anything else that may seem relevant.

An empowered patient wants to figure out what’s really going on to create the symptoms, what the root causes are. She understands that there are many causes of symptoms and she wants to figure out which ones might apply to her. She accepts that she may have to reach for a prescription or non-prescription medicine in order to deal with the immediate symptoms, yet she will also continue to monitor the situation to ensure that she is not just masking the symptoms. She understands that masking the symptoms may help in the short term, but that this is rarely a long term solution.

She has learned that there are many ways to deal with the root causes of symptoms, especially stress-related ones. She knows that some conditions can be managed herself through techniques such as meditation, mindfulness practice, or EFT. She is also aware that there are many types of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) practitioners available to treat some conditions in complementary and alternative ways.

An empowered patient understands that the practitioners are well educated and experienced in their areas of practice and that they understand the workings of the human body as well as current knowledge provides, but she also understands that there’s a lot that is not known and that not everyone can be treated the same way. What works for some doesn’t work for others, and vice versa. She understands that, while practitioners may know THE body, she knows HER body.

She understands that when she visits a doctor or health care practitioner, she needs to be prepared for a discussion, a problem solving exercise. An empowered patient does NOT aim to diagnose her condition on her own. She understands that she needs help to figure things out, but she also understands that she is the most important person in the room. If she doesn’t understand what she’s hearing, she keeps asking questions. If the recommendation doesn’t feel right, she says so and explains why.

What’s the point? The key traits of an empowered patient are the ability to advocate for themselves, to ask questions until they understand their options including the pros and cons of each, and make a treatment decision based on what makes the most sense for them, at that time.  Eventually she comes to a decision of the best way to be treated, the one that works for her for the present circumstances.

So are you an empowered patient? Do you see how empowered patients (and health care practitioners that encourage their patients to become empowered) will heal the healthcare system?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, I’ll share mine next week.

Namaste, Ken

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Written by Ken

Ken Jaques describes himself as a Health Care Evolutionary, Community Builder, and Speaker. True healing begins when we treat root causes instead of just masking symptoms. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2008, Ken has experienced many facets of the health care system. As “the only patient who ever lost their hair on this low of a dosage of chemotherapy” – as spoken by his rheumatologist – Ken has been on an amazing journal of self-discovery, a journey of true healing. In his blog, Ken shares stories of how his beliefs have changed over the past few years, and how they are still changing. Is it possible that our bodies can heal themselves? Do we really have to live without hope after we receive a chronic illness diagnosis? These are the types of questions that Ken encourages people to ask themselves as they embark on their own physical or emotional healing journey.

Ken is creating a platform to connect People, Patients, Practitioners, Partners and Promoters, enabling a collaborative effort to help shift the focus on health from I-llness to We-llness. Check out the pilot at

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we’, even I-llness becomes WE-llness” ~ Malcolm X


  1. This is a beautiful outline of some of the steps we can take as empowered patients. I recently blogged about my experience in a long haul of getting a diagnosis and the value that using tools to track my body, symptoms, and random things that my doctor would never see from a day-to-day perspective to be a more active participant in my care. You can view it here if you’d like:

    I am pretty passionate about this topic, and appreciate people who share their stories as well. So glad I tripped over your blog this morning!

    • Thanks Courtney,
      I read your story and loved it. This is exactly the type of message that we want EVERYBODY to hear. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to checking out your site as well.
      Have an awesome weekend.
      Cheers, Ken

  2. I listened to the broadcast this morning while getting ready for work. Good job! I like the way you suggest we look at the cause and not the symptoms.


  3. Woo Hoo! We need to get this blog post out to everyone who steps foot into a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office! As an RN and a cancer patient I am on hootin and hollerin on your bandwagon brother!


  1. Episode 18: How To Be a Better Patient - [...] “Are you an empowered patient?” – Recent post by Ken [...]

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