A Healthcare Provider’s Role in Patient Education

A Healthcare Provider’s Role in Patient Education

For many patients, except for a fellow cancer survivor, no one other than their healthcare provider understands how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be. When worry or smiles turn to fear, anger, or sadness, providers are there.

While some providers have long recognized the value of providing comprehensive patient education materials, others have missed the mark by giving little to none, placing the burden on patients to find their own resources or information. When implemented correctly, patient education goes beyond informing patients about their cancer and treatment. It can play a crucial role in helping patients cope better, learn how to become a self-advocate, and how to be engaged in their care.

At Bag It Cancer, we believe patient education is primarily the provider’s responsibility. Most Bag recipients receive their Bag It Bags directly from their providers, ensuring that they’re receiving the trusted information at the right time. So yes, please continue to give your patients the Bag It Bag if you are a current Bag distributor. If you are not, consider how offering this critical aspect of patient care benefits both patients and clinicians.

Studies show that patient education can help patients be more informed, more engaged in their care, better equipped to ask better questions, more compliant with treatment, and enjoy a better quality of life. Providers who directly provide quality education materials like the Bag It Bag can be confident that their patients are accessing reliable information rather than obtaining misinformation that could be dangerous.

Ideally, here is what a patient education session for a newly-diagnosed patient would look like:

A provider walks in with a Bag It Bag and opens it up to introduce it to the patient. The patient, having been informed of their diagnosis, opens My Companion Guidebook to section 1 (My Personal Details) to see that the provider has already written in the details of their current diagnosis. The provider shows them  copies of their recent scans and lab work which have already been added to the appropriate sections and discusses the results and next steps. The patient would also be directed to one of the booklets that the provider feels would be most helpful to them at that time. Now a difficult appointment where many patients often leave dazed and confused has become one where the patient leaves feeling cared for, prepared, empowered, and with a better sense of what to expect.

If you or your team are interested in seeing how Bag It can improve your oncology patient education services, please feel free to reach out at cj@bagitcancer.org or call 520-337-2800.

 

6 Ways to Mind Your Mind During Cancer

6 Ways to Mind Your Mind During Cancer

We all know that a cancer diagnosis can be life-changing for everyone. Its impact isn’t just reserved to the physical changes experienced by patients, but also the mental health toll it can have on patients, families, friends, and entire communities. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, our team at Bag It would like to share some helpful tips for you and your loved ones to ease your journey to survivorship. 

Number one

Change your environment (even for a short while)

Take a vacation with a loved one. Vacations offer many mental health benefits, including reducing depression and anxiety. Your vacation doesn’t need to be extensive; even a weekend road trip can help reduce stress. A study found that “a short, three-day leisure trip reduced perceived levels of stress and reduced levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol.” Another option is to take some time to enjoy nature. A 15-30 minute walk outside offers a chance to get some fresh air and reset. Maybe a stroll at the park or a hike on a trail might do the trick.

Number 2

Take advantage of support programs in your community

Support groups are a safe, confidential space to share experiences and connect with others navigating similar challenges. They are often available in person or virtual, and you may find one at a local religious group, cancer center, or local cancer nonprofit. Studies have shown that attending a support group can lead to a better quality of life due to improved mood, self-image, and increased coping ability. 

Number 3

Take some time to count sheep

Sleep plays a vital role in how our bodies recover. A lack of adequate sleep has previously been thought to result from depression, but “growing evidence suggests that poor sleep may induce or exacerbate depression.” Inadequate sleep can also lead to anxiety disorders and may become an added source of worry and hyperarousal, which is a key contributor to insomnia. So find a bedtime each day that works for you. Wind down with some relaxation techniques as part of your bedtime routine and maximize comfort with a great mattress, pillow, and bedding. Your body will thank you for it.

Number 4

Let’s get physical

Exercise offers so many benefits beyond just building muscle and burning calories. Moderate exercise “relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.” No matter your age or fitness level, 30-minutes of moderate exercise five times a week can make a lot of difference. You`ll feel more relaxed and see a change in your self-image. Physical activity is also essential for managing some of the side effects of cancer, including fatigue, weight loss, weight gain, and cardiovascular issues. It also plays a role in survivorship by reducing inflammation and joint pain.  

Additional information can be found in the booklet Living Well with Cancer and Beyond.  So find a fun activity that works for you, and get started today!

Number 5

Form your squad

People face so many challenges daily, and these challenges get even more complex after a cancer diagnosis. It’s natural for people to retreat alone and deal in silence, but it’s not always the healthiest route. Find family members or close friends you trust as members of your support network. Social interactions are good for our overall physical and mental health. Cancer doesn’t have to be the focus of every conversation, and you have the right to determine what you feel comfortable sharing with others. A laugh with friends or dinner at your favorite restaurant can also offer a greater sense of well-being and relieves pent-up stress or pain.

Number 6

Talk to your provider

It’s ok not to be ok. You are not alone. If the challenges around you become overwhelming or you find yourself in a dark place, never be ashamed to seek help. Talk to your provider or find a licensed mental health professional near you. If you have insurance, you can often find a provider in your network by visiting your insurance plan’s website. You can also visit the Bag It Resource Center to find reliable resources.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They are available 24 hours a day, everyday, Call: 1-800-273-8255 or Text: “HELLO” to 741741

Sources

Lifeskills Behavioral Health. 2022. Social Connection & Healthy Activities | Mental Health Well-Being. [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Four reasons to take a vacation. [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Unity Point Health. 2022. 5 Powerful Benefits of Joining a Cancer Support Group (Infographic). [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Suni, E., 2022. Mental Health and Sleep | Sleep Foundation. [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

4 Tips To Improve Your Medical Records Management

4 Tips To Improve Your Medical Records Management

Be prepared for every visit.
Manage your healthcare better.

April is National Records and Information Management Month! Keeping comprehensive and accurate medical records can empower you and your healthcare team to make the best decisions for your care.

So much of what we do for our health happens outside clinical settings. When you can track appointments, tests, nutrition and more over time, you and your healthcare team will have the right information and tools to manage your health. And, bonus, you will be more engaged in your overall care and prepared for each healthcare visit.  Every detail stored and provided is vital because all the accumulated information can contribute to proper diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.

In honor of this month, Bag It would like to share a few tips to help you be great at your healthcare records and information management. And to show you the perfect tool to keep everything organized in one place, we give you a look at My Companion Guidebook.

Tip #1

Request copies of all your medical records and test results to store in  one of Bag It’s tools, My Companion Guidebook. You can refer back to them and provide a backup copy if they get lost or are not accessible by a different healthcare provider.

Tip #2

Most providers use various electronic health records systems that are not compatible and don’t share your information between them.  By keeping accurate copies of all lab work, treatment plans, etc., you can help manage the flow of information from providers and improve the quality of care.

Additionally, Bag It’s My Companion Guidebook (see portals page) will help you juggle the various usernames and passwords for different patient portals.

Tip #3

Use the My Appointments Summary Log in My companion Guidebook to write down your questions in advance of appointments. Make sure you fully understand what you are being told then write down the answers provided and any other notes on what was discussed during the appointment. Make sure you understand next steps needed for follow up care, next appointment, etc.

Tip #4

Sometimes, it can be tricky remembering everything discussed with your doctor. Take notes and/or ask if you can make a recording. Save the recording and notes by appointment dates for review later. This can help you remember what you talked about and be a quick reference material for family and friends.

companion guide and bag it contents

Bag It’s My Companion Guidebook–The Perfect Tool To Keep You Organized

Use My Companion Guide to store medical info, healthcare and personal contacts, reports/scans/labs, calendar items, insurance info, notes and questions for the doctor, track side effects and symptoms, etc.

Maintaining this information and all the paperwork on an ongoing basis will make this an easy go-to reference for you, caregivers and family, and doctor visits.

The easy-to-use forms can be filled in by hand or use the fillable PDF format found on our website to print, save, and update later and share electronically with others as you see fit.

The Importance of Being Your Own Advocate

The Importance of Being Your Own Advocate

Hear from Bag It Founder, Sherri Romanoski, as she shares with Impact Gap the importance of patient-physician communication, being your own advocate, and survivorship. Impact Gap is a graduate student-run, patient-centered podcast group at the University of Toronto. Their mission is to provide a platform to amplify patient perspectives, acknowledge patients as experts in their care, and raise awareness for important patient issues.

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