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The Battle for Justice: 'Sickcare' vs. 'Health Owners'

Part 5 of The Battle for Justice: 'Sickcare' vs. 'Health-Owners' Series.

The 6-part blog series reflects on one patient’s experience and unravels the complex and mind-boggling factors surrounding American patients. I aim to shed light on the extent of US healthcare troubles, explore the reasons behind the current state, and, ultimately, challenge you to rethink healthcare and consider doing things differently. 

Haven’t read previous parts of the series? Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

We must fight against injustice!

As described in the preceding posts, the extremely complex and dysfunctional Sickcare system has made most people give up on understanding their health care and become easy cash cows when faced with medical events unprepared.  

More importantly, too many people have been harmed by medical ‘care.’

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine estimated that “at least 44,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors… the equivalent of a jumbo jet crash every day,” and even offered ways to mitigate the situation

Yet, in 2016 Johns Hopkins reported a much higher figure of harm, “more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S”, making medical errors “the third leading cause of death.” 

In other words, multiple jumbo jets have been crashing every single day in US hospitals for more than two decades. Yet, due to the lack of transparency in Sickcare, nobody even knows exactly how many people were killed by those errors and accidents! 😱

Multiple planes crashing into a hospital while government officials and experts shrugging their shoulders

At this point, should we still expect that ‘experts’ and government officials will eventually solve so many compounding problems?

And remember, smart and wealthy business people, like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos, failed too. 

I hope you would agree the only possible option left is to mobilize people’s power. 

There is strength in numbers. 

It’s time for people to rein in our out-of-control Sickcare system because it’s our life, our money, and our future that’s at stake.

The Importance of Mindset and Decision-Making

I know… You may be thinking, “But I can’t do much about my healthcare. I need doctors and medical institutions to decide what’s right for me, and provide the service for me.” 

I get that’s a common perception. But this notion is only half correct. It’s true that doctors and medical institutions provide medical services, but here is the important point you should remember: They really cannot decide what’s right for you. It’s actually their job to help you decide what’s right for you.

The process is called Shared Decision-Making (SDM). Even though the benefits of SDM are abundant, because of the factors discussed in Part 2, providers often take a shortcut or skip this part altogether, unfortunately. 

I strongly believe SDM is one of the key factors that change the course of our healthcare.

However, providers clearly need patients’ help.

Besides SDM, there are a few other things people can do to improve healthcare and reduce the cost, both significantly. (I will be excited to talk about those in later blog posts.) 

But in this post, I will focus on the first step, the Mindset, which is the most critical one!

As a nurse and patient advocate, I’ve met essentially two types of people. 

The first type is the ‘passive’ type (the “Cash Cows”). They rely on doctors to figure out their health problems and let the professionals tell them what to do.

They try to follow the prescriptions but may not if difficulty arises. Sometimes, they are afraid to seek care, even when suspecting something might be wrong with their health. Consequently, they often experience medical emergencies totally unprepared.

The second type is what I call “Health Owners.” These people have a sense of ownership of their health and don’t just let their doctors tell them what to do.

They may not have medical knowledge, but they pay attention to their bodies and ask questions if something doesn’t make sense. These people are willing to spend time and energy and make necessary investments in their health because they know their health is precious. 

Here are depictions of two types of people and the related concepts.

The Spectrum of patient mindsets - Despair to a confident Health Owner

Adopting a Health Owner Mindset (H.O. Mindset)

Sometimes, I witness a shift in people as we discuss the importance of being an owner of their health, not leaving everything to the providers. They would say something like, “Oh, so, it’s really OK to tell my doctors when their explanation doesn’t make sense to me?” 

The answer is a resounding yes! As long as you express it in a respectful way, you should expect them to happily explain things in a way that makes sense to you. (This is a sign of patient engagement; good providers appreciate it!)

You could also improve the outcome of an appointment dramatically by doing a little homework ahead of time, and showing your doctor that you are an engaged patient who’s willing to do your part. With positive feedback from your doctor, you will likely be motivated to learn more, and your confidence will increase.

I believe the H.O. mindset is like a rocket that moves people toward a higher orbit of empowered patients/consumers. Once you get to a higher level, you may choose to spend your fuel (time/energy/resources) to self-advocate with various free or low-cost resources available. Depending on your circumstance, you may tap into a trustworthy doctor, family or friend, or choose to spend extra fuel by leaning on a professional advocate.

How the Health Owner Mindset allows one to elevate the mindset/action spectrum

Either way, once you adopt the H.O. mindset, you can go up in the virtuous cycle of clarity and power. You may spend some time organizing and maintaining a record, just as responsible homeowners would do, so you learn more about your care and ask better questions at the next appointment. 

Like handy homeowners may opt for a DIY fix for simple everyday tasks but call for professional help for complex issues, a health owner may take a path of self-advocacy and work with an advocate for more complex challenges.

Exercise Your Rights and Take Ownership!

It’s important to think of your health as the most valuable asset you own. In fact, if you consider the compound effect of ill health, including all the out-of-pocket expenses (that your insurance won’t cover these days), reduced or lost wages for years, and the possibility of getting harmed in a medical institution (not to mention the emotional costs), the value of your health is likely worth so much more than your house (even if you own a million-dollar mansion)! 

And remember, unlike a house, you can never ‘move’ to a brand-new healthy body! 

When you adopt the H.O. mindset, it’s natural to take responsibility and exercise your rights, just like homeowners. 

  • If you notice a potential problem, you’ll take action without delay.

    • For example, if you see water dripping from the ceiling, you'd investigate why and your options quickly. You'd probably call (multiple) trustworthy professionals, right?

  • When you are at a doctor’s office or medical facility, it’s important to remember the provider must earn your business (unless you’re too sick to go elsewhere). 

  • That’s why it’s critical for you to access care before you urgently need it. This gives you the power to ‘shop around’! Expect the providers to explain the benefits of and alternatives to their service specifically to you in a way you understand.

  • You have the right to get your questions answered fully and to decline the service if adequate answers are not given. (THIS can really change how the Sickcare system operates!)

  • Again, if you wait until you get really sick, you cannot do any of those. Hence, it’s critical to act on your health before too late!

A patient engaging with her doctor confidently

I truly believe that when the majority of people adopt the H.O. mindset, we can finally demand better from the Sickcare system and force it to change! 

You should never forget:

👉 The industry needs our business. (In the USA, the consumers have the power. Use it!)

👉 The providers cannot take any action without our consent (except for emergencies). An informed consent is our right. Get informed!

👉 We lose our power when we wait too long and become a patient who needs care desperately.

One last piece of advice before ending this volume.

Don’t let the complexity stop you from exercising your rights. As touched on in Part 3, the Sickcare system notoriously lacks clear standards. Providers' and healthcare professionals’ knowledge varies greatly! If someone isn’t helpful, speak to someone else. 

Always remember you are the ultimate decision-maker of your own care!


Here are some questions for reflection until next time.

  1. Reflecting on the statistics of preventable medical errors mentioned in the post, how does this information influence your perception of the healthcare system? Did it make you upset? Or do you feel empowered to take a more active role in your own healthcare?

  2. Did the concept of the Health Owner Mindset make sense to you? Are you currently more aligned with the passive approach or the proactive approach to managing your health? Did this blog post inspire you to consider transitioning towards a Health Owner Mindset? 😊

  3. In light of the analogy between managing one's health and managing a home, how does viewing your health as a valuable asset shape your approach to healthcare decision-making? Are there specific actions you can take to exercise your rights and take ownership of your health?

  4. Reflect on the statement, "The industry needs our business." How does this perspective shift the balance of power between healthcare providers and patients? What implications does this have for advocating for improved healthcare outcomes and transparency in the system?


About Kayoko Corbet, RN, BCPA

Hi, I’m Ky! I assist people in navigating the healthcare maze and complexities to get the care they need and deserve with full benefit. I also help people better manage their health to have a better future.

Connect with me on LinkedIn


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