Tools to Empower Patients

Posted on August 22, 2011


Tools to Empower Patients


The Mayor’s Health Line would like to recommend these great tools to assist Boston clients in being empowered while seeking medical services.


Agency for Health Care Quality and Research (AHRQ) has just launched their Explore Your Treatment Options.  Their mission, through public service advertisements and their website, is to persuade consumers to be a partner in their healthcare.  Many patients feel they should do what the doctor tells them, submit to tests and follow treatment plans without fully understanding what else is available or what the treatment plan is all about.  This program encourages patients to ask questions and provides tips on how to get started, what to ask and what you should tell your doctor.  There is a Health Priorities Tool you can fill out and print, this “health priorities snapshot” allows you to share with your doctor what is important to you in your daily life such as driving or concentrating so that you can get the treatment plan best for you.


Check out the website at


Another great tool is Straight talk with Your Doc. This is a workshop that was presented by Health Literacy Missouri at the IHA conference in Irvine, California in May of this year.  The idea is to teach patients how to ask questions of their doctor, how to slow down their doctor and be more confident and interactive in the patient provider encounter. 


Participants are recruited members of the public or a patient group.    A doctor is recruited and given a scenario in which he speaks in a very non- health literate way.  After the facilitator spends time with the group members discussing strategies and questions to ask, a volunteer is drawn from the group, given the patient version of the scenario and the role playing begins.  The doctor responds to her questions in a complicated and jargon filled manner.  It is up to the volunteer to ask the questions she has learned, to ask him to slow down, to explain medical jargon, to let him know she does not understand something and to initiate the teach-back method.   The scenario lasts about 10 minutes and then the group discusses the interaction.  A posttest culminates the event.  Manuals and an information pack are available from Health Literacy Missouri. Check out their website:

Last but not least, check out Ask Me 3 from the National Patient Safety Foundation


Three questions every patient should ask:

1) What is my main problem?
2) What do I need to do?
3) Why is it important for me to do this?


Check out their website at