How can we make the best possible healthcare decisions?
When living with a disease, illness, or health condition that significantly impacts our day to day lives, how do we seek information and perspectives that is most relevant to us?
Palliative care specialists are in some ways like the life coaches of the medical world. We start by asking, "What is most important to you?" and tailor our guidance and medical recommendations based upon a person's priorities and goals. We encourage patients and family members to advocate for the medical care that is most in line with their values while helping them understand the realities of their health situations. After all, the level of medical care you are looking for may look very different from the level of medical care the person next to you is seeking.
As the cardiologist focuses on disorders and diseases related to the heart organ, so the palliative care specialist focuses on the whole person/whole family needs when one is attempting to make the most of living with complex illness, worsening health, or an unexpected prognosis.
One can easily be led astray by the myriad of medical options that exist in America. A palliative care conversation could help a person step back and view their medical or health situation as a whole, making it easier for them to advocate for high-value medical care. Sometimes it can give back a sense of control to a person living through one of the toughest times of their life.
Too often, this conversation never happens.
"I've never heard of palli- how do you say it again?"
Because there is so much confusion regarding how a palliative care specialist can help, I am writing in an attempt to provide clarity. I share concretely what I do. I explain the perspective of medical decision making from the palliative care standpoint.
My goal is to provide practical guidance on how a person, regardless of their medical issues, can advocate for themself as they navigate our fragmented healthcare system. I hope eventually every person in the country will know how to advocate for what matters most to them and how to obtain the most value out of their health care.
I know misconceptions exist about palliative care. Real palliative care is about empowerment.
Welcome to Real Palliative Care.
(palliative care physician by day, wife and mom by night, and fellow human being 24/7)
Dr. Jeanne Lee is a board certified internal medicine and palliative care physician. She completed her medical education and internal medicine residency at Duke University School of Medicine and Duke University Hospital. She has a decade's experience working as a hospitalist caring for patients admitted to the hospital and intensive care unit in multiple regions of the United States. Overlapping this period, she transitioned to primarily providing palliative care assistance to patients and their families in the hospital, intensive care unit, rehabilitation facility, assisted living facility, clinic, residential home, and via telemedicine in the past decade.
Dr. Lee currently practices palliative care and teaches as an adjunct clinical assistant professor or instructor at several institutions. She lives in Texas with her husband and four children.