In 2010, I became very sick. I was losing weight, blood, and was in a lot of pain. I went to a doctor to get help.
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of my healthcare saga. Through several late nights in the emergency room to more ultrasounds than I could count, to acupuncture for help with the pain and insomnia, the pain worsened.
The first doctor assumed the culprit was an ovarian cyst and each subsequent doctor I saw took her word for it. Up until this point, I tended to be passive about my health care. I believed what I was told. When so many doctors agreed on my diagnosis, how could I question them? Becoming “patient active”, a term that I later learned, actually saved my life.
One sleepless night, I woke up on the floor of my kitchen. The anemia had caused me to pass out while getting a glass of water and I had hit my head. I went back to the doctor the next day and insisted more tests be done.
I was finally diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer and found a wonderful healthcare team to treat the cancer. The tumor had grown and had positioned itself so that surgery was not an option. I went through two months of daily external radiation, weekly internal radiation, and weekly chemotherapy treatments. I am so grateful that it was treatable, and I am thankful for the healthcare system that made it so. Still, we can do better in helping patients through the healthcare experience. This is why I founded Intake.Me.
“People with cancer who actively participate in their fight for recovery along with their physicians and healthcare professionals will improve the quality of their lives and may enhance the possibility of their recovery. Combining the will of the patient with the skill of the physician – A powerful combination.” ~ Harold Benjamin, PhD, 1982
With my background in technology, I was surprised to see so many problems in the healthcare system that could be, but were not yet, solved by technology. For instance, filling out intake forms while extremely sick — something that I had to do several times by hand at every emergency room visit and every new doctor’s visit — could be streamlined if I had the tools to properly manage and store my own personal health data. Also, I lacked ways to keep track of my test results. How can I make sure Doctor A sees test results prescribed by Doctor B? How can I make sure Doctor A and Doctor B communicate about these results to ensure a proper diagnosis? Had I had Intake.Me — a single touch point for all my medical records including test, diagnosis, intake forms and the ability to share all my healthcare records with each doctor — I believe I would have been diagnosed sooner.
After talking to my new friends (my fellow cancer survivors), I am convinced there is a real opportunity to empower patients in similar situations to mine. The patient (or a designated caretaker) is the central point and timeline within their healthcare experience. We can create tools that empower patients to become patient active and improve their healthcare experience and outcomes.
As for me, I was grateful to receive my NED (No Evidence of Disease) in September of 2010. I look forward to building a better world for patients, as a cancer survivor. By starting Intake.Me, I am helping to solve these problems.
I would love to hear your story and how you believe Intake.Me could help you.
Darla Brown, CEO & Founder
Latest posts by Darla Brown (see all)
- New CLL Patient Resource: Patient Power on Facebook Live - July 27, 2017
- Visit Intake.Me at ATA 2015 #ata2015 - May 4, 2015
- World Health Day:“Think globally, act locally” - April 7, 2015