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Week: 550.4 Guest: Mike Donio, People's Medical Society, Allentown, PA Topic: Empowerment for people navigating health care Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: If you want to know about a medical condition, you go to the medical encyclopedia, or the Internet Grateful Med site. But what if you need to know what to do in a situation involving health care, or health coverage? Mike Donio is here to talk about the People's Medical Society...the country's largest consumer health advocacy organization...

DONIO: We've been around for 13 years, and it grew out of an idea by the late Robert Rodale, who was chairman of Rodale Press. He felt that many parts of the medical delivery system, as we call it, were organized: The physicians, the nurses, the technicians, the hospital administrators, the nursing home administrators, and what have you. The only part that wasn't organized were the patients. And he launched this project, not knowing who was going to respond, and the response of the public was really overwhelming. We have membership, we publish books, because part of our mission is consumer health information and education, and you can only do this if you can put materials in the hands of the medical consumers. As a result of this, we've published, I guess close to 40 books. Our primary book that launched everything was, "Take This Book to the Hospital With You". It's still on the bookshelves, in stores. It tells people what they can expect and how they can get through a hospital stay. It also tells them some things about consumer advocacy that they can do, or a family member can do for them while they're in the hospital. We've also done other books on conditions: Arthritis, asthma, diabetes, back pain....we've done some books on vitamins and minerals. We have a general, consumer's medical desk reference that has information on all aspects of the medical field as well as insurance, and a lot of consumer sources and resources that people can use to find more information on their condition or a particular issue.

NEMA: What about national health issues?

DONIO: The People's Medical Society is also active in the public policy arena, by commenting on national health policy, state health policy...and trying to promote the consumer side of it, whether it's an expansion of medical benefits, whether it's reform of malpractice or tort reform...we are there to espouse the consumer viewpoint, and just to remind everyone that it is the consumer who pays the bills, and it is the consumer who generally must deal with the medical care delivery system. And our goal is to give them a more equal footing, so they can deal effectively and get the best possible care for themselves and their family members.

NEMA: The books coming from the patient/consumer point of view are a great idea..they must be very popular for you...

DONIO: They really have...especially the condition books, because we do them in a Q & A format. For instance, Arthritis, Questions You Have, Answers You Need, we go through and we define ...we pose the questions that a consumer would be asking...What is this condition? How prevalent is it? What are the most common treatments? What are some optional treatments? How can I deal with this to maybe prevent it before it can develop? Then there's also sections on resources: other organizations that provide information, as well as different treatment centers around the country. We have other books that deal with insurance problems, so that a person knows what they have to do when they have a problem. How to file a complaint, how to file an appeal. And also, to make sure they protect their medical and legal rights.

NEMA: To get more information call the People's Medical Society at 800-624-8773, and you'll get a packet of information on the membership, and also a listing of all the publications. I'm Steve Girard.

 

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