Understanding healthcare is no easy feat. With so many different policies and laws that vary by state, region, and country, getting clear answers when it comes to healthcare policy or how your plan works can be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are resources out there to help you improve your healthcare literacy. So in hopes of helping you demystify healthcare, we’ve compiled a variety of books below for you to check out.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Books for Patients to Better Understand Healthcare & Healthcare Policy
- Best Books for Healthcare Professionals
- Best Books on Healthcare Administration
- Best Books on the Future of Healthcare and Healthcare Technology
Each book covers a different corner of the healthcare world. A few authors recognize that bedside manner is failing as computers take greater control in hospitals. Some commend improving patient knowledge thanks to manuals and exhaustive text on granting us more control over medical choices. Still, other authors are not satisfied with the current healthcare system and wish to challenge professionals to improve healthcare, not just maintain it.
So, whether you are a patient or a caregiver, if you are looking for a book to enlighten you or enhance your knowledge, check out the options below.
Best Books for Patients to Better Understand Healthcare & Healthcare Policy
Healthcare doesn’t have to seem so unapproachable. Most nurses and doctors want you to have the best insights possible so you can live a healthy, productive lifestyle.
That said, healthcare policy is still policy and can change as new bills pass into law. Treat these books as a jumping-off point, and be sure to stay up to date on your local healthcare laws.
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1. Your Patient Safety Survival Guide: How to Protect Yourself and Others from Medical Errors by Gretchen Lefever Watson, PhD
Dr. Watson wants to help you assume control of your medical needs. That way, you’ll be better informed next time you have a doctor’s visit. In her book, Your Patient Safety Survival Guide: How to Protect Yourself and Others from Medical Errors, Watson will teach you how to raise awareness, prevent the spread of infection, and avoid harmful medication interactions.
Understanding the right questions to ask the medical staff will better prepare you for medical visits and help keep you safe.
2. Finding the Right Treatment by Jacqueline Krohn and Francis A. Taylor
The comprehensive 700-page guide Finding the Right Treatment will help you analyze conventional and alternative healthcare methods. You can use the guide to look up your symptoms or disease and compare hundreds of treatments and therapies to discover their strengths and weaknesses.
The authors address hospitals, surgery, radiative treatment, and vaccinations. With this encyclopedia, you'll have more tools to make better decisions about your health and your healthcare.
3. Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir by Sonya Huber
Whether you are going without or struggling to pay for it, United States healthcare is a stressful subject, and healthcare reform is usually next-in-line for discussion. We all want reasonable coverage, no matter our income bracket.
In Cover Me, author Sonya Huber details the immense struggle she went through to get coverage—even when it meant working jobs she didn't like—or couldn't stand.
4. Rejuvenating: The Art and Science of Growing Older with Enthusiasm by Ron Kaiser
Age may impact how you feel, but it doesn't have to define how you live your life. There are many books from the MD perspective, but Dr. Kaiser's book takes on health from a psychological standpoint.
Staying mindful will keep you motivated about both your mental and physical health. In this book, healthcare is about your whole care.
5. The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being by Sherwin B. Nuland
No part of aging isn't part of the greater journey. In The Art of Aging, Dr. Nuland points out that the healthcare process involves taking care of your inner self as much as your outer self.
According to Nuland, if you pair complex psychological health with general healthcare, you'll age well. Likely, you'll be happier, too.
6. What Nurses Know and Doctors Don’t Have the Time to Tell You: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Home Healthcare by Pat Caroll
What Nurses Know is your home reference guide to getting the most out of your medical care. This guide will also teach you how to have a more productive relationship with your physician.
For those of you who have very little knowledge or education in healthcare or need some good advice, this is the book for you.
7. The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid
In The Healing of America, T. R. Reid sets out to discover why and how other nations have healthcare under control. What she finds out is that they don’t.
In fact, most countries are experiencing their own set of healthcare problems. This book is an excellent survey of the problems plaguing healthcare systems at home and abroad.
8. A Clean Bill of Health: Restoring American Medical Exceptionalism by Myles Saunders, MD
A Clean Bill of Health is about the broken US healthcare system as a whole. This book is brimming with classic American can-do spirit.
And though it may sway at times towards one side of the political spectrum, after removing blame and politics, you'll find one person's pragmatic approach to fixing our healthcare system.
9. The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands by Eric Topol
Unless you can afford house calls from your physician, you're in the majority. Most of us are forced to wait months to see a doctor for 15 minutes. Then we spend endless money on inconclusive testing.
That's all changing. In The Patient Will See You Now, Eric Topol explores how computers are giving people back the control they need and deserve to make educated healthcare choices.
10. The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm, at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter
Medical advancements in technology have saved countless lives. But as medicine improves, new dangers arise. Bugs and miscalculations happen on your PC.
Imagine, then, how problematic this is for a hospital. Despite this, computers have given doctors access to a breadth of new information. Today, practicing medicine with diligence, compassion, and insight takes on a whole new meaning. Let The Digital Doctor inform you on this quickly evolving field.
Best Books for Healthcare Professionals
Small advancements have led to monumental changes in healthcare. Even so, some battles for improvement are self-inflicted. Here are a few books we’ve picked out for healthcare professionals that peek behind the curtain of the medical world.
11. Letters to a Young Doctor by Richard Seltzer
Regarded as one of the best medical essayists, Dr. Seltzer is the sensei of medical prose. Those who appreciate well-written but sentimental philosophy will find great pleasure in this read.
In Letters to a Young Doctor, Seltzer instructs on how to avoid immediate judgments so you can react with kindness.
12. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Though they may not know it, almost everyone on the planet has benefitted from Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer. Her stolen cells have led to the development of vaccinations, fertilization, and even cloning.
And although billions of dollars have exchanged hands thanks to Henrietta’s DNA, her family is tragically too poor to buy health insurance.
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13. Physician Wellness: The Rockstar Doctor’s Guide, Change Your Thinking, Improve Your Life by Rebeka Bernard, MD and Steven Cohen, PsyD
Physician Wellness was written for doctors who need to discover techniques to improve their mindset. Doctors Bernard and Cohen encourage you to set boundaries for a better work-life balance.
They even have suggestions on how to increase personal motivation, so you can find joy in your work again.
14. The Doctors’ Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignác Semmelweis by Sherwin B. Nuland
It's now common knowledge that washing one's hands will help prevent the spread of infection and disease. At one point, no one had a clue.
Dr. Ignác Semmelweis, a Hungarian-born physician, developed this revolutionary idea. As a result, mothers have been spared postpartum infections and, in particular, puerperal fever. Read about it in The Doctors' Plague.
15. I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse by Lee Gutkind
Burnout and bureaucracy, extenuating circumstances, growing pains. These are all trials that can affect a career in healthcare. If you find yourself questioning your path, you're not alone. You may find some solace in the stories of those who have come before in I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out.
After all, there are others out there who have been through it. This book shares just a few of their stories.
16. Forensic Nurse: The New Role of the Nurse in Law Enforcement by Serita Stevens, RN
Nurses now play pivotal roles in preserving evidence to solve crimes. If you are considering a well-paid position in forensic nursing, you'll need to know about maintaining evidence and dealing with trauma.
That said, Forensic Nurse doesn't go too far into details, but it does provide some interesting commentary.
17. Emergency 24/7: Nurses of the Emergency Room by Echo Heron
In Emergency 24/7, Echo Heron chronicles the stories of nurses who work in emergency rooms. Inside, interviews and stories will make you laugh and break your heart.
There’s a particularly compelling, if not heart-wrenching, series of interviews about 9/11, too. If you want to know what being a nurse in the emergency room is really like, this book doesn’t sugarcoat it.
18. When Nurses Hurt Nurses: Recognizing and Overcoming the Cycle of Nurse Bullying by Cheryl Dellasega
Even in nursing, bullying happens. Dellasega details how it can come at you from your coworkers and your superiors in When Nurses Hurt Nurses. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is growing, too.
If you’ve been a victim of bullying, the author lists some resources to help. She also gives you a few worksheets to help either diffuse or work through any volatile experiences.
19. And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II by Evelyn M. Monahan
We’ve heard so little about the heroic deeds of US Army nurses in World War II. They may not have been at the front line, but they experienced bombings, sinking ships, and repeated terror.
If you love history, And If I Perish is a book for you. You’ll travel from Normandy to Italy and on to Africa, gathering the experience of war from a nurse’s perspective.
Best Books on Healthcare Administration
Below you’ll find some of the best books on workforce safety, healthcare information systems, law, diversity and bias, and, of course, compassionate care.
20. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
As one of today’s leading surgeons and top medical thought leaders, Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto brings critical insight into bettering healthcare administration. Of course, this includes patient palliative care at the fundamental level, but it certainly follows the chain up to administrative levels.
21. Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference by Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli
Referencing extensive examples and research articles, Compassionomics provides evidence to support compassionate care as an effective tool in caring for patients. It decreases healthcare costs and improves overall applications of medicine.
22. Jonas and Kovner's Health Care Delivery in the United States, 12th Edition by Editors James R. Knickman and Brian Elbel
This best-selling book is in its 12th edition and is often a requirement for master’s level nursing students. In it, you’ll discover a far-reaching survey of organizational care, politics, populations, expenses, financing, and IT.
23. The Interprofessional Health Care Team: Leadership and Development, Second Edition by Donna Weiss, Felice Tilin, and Marlene J. Morgan
The Interprofessional Health Care Team values group dynamics, emotional intelligence, leadership, and just how positive, well-adjusted teams can navigate the healthcare world together.
The book also highlights how unconscious bias works against the team’s diversity, breaking down its effectiveness, providing exercises to mitigate issues and create change.
24. Zero Harm: How to Achieve Patient and Workforce Safety in Healthcare, by Craig Clapper, James Merlino, and Carole Stockmeier
Although some critics of Zero Harm feel that there could have been more information about workforce safety—as implied by the title, there is a great deal of information to implement patient safety.
Those actions involve a primary commitment to zero harm, patient centricity, data collection for analysis, amending culture and leadership for success, and tracking accountability.
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25. The Law of Healthcare Administration, Eighth Edition by J. Stuart Showalter
Showalter’s book deep dives into healthcare's legal administrative aspects, including contracts, torts, taxation, and health insurance, each with examples from court cases such as NFIB v. Sibelius and King v. Burwell. You’ll also discover notable discourse on Roe v. Wade and death with dignity.
26. Health Care Information Systems: A Practical Approach for Health Care Management, Fourth Edition by Karen A. Wager, Frances W. Lee, and John P. Glaser
Authors Wager, Lee, and Glaser break down the application, implementation, and evaluation of health informatics in an easy-to-read format in Health Care Information Systems. Included are up-to-date laws and regulations that senior-level managers need to perform their day-to-day administrative functions.
Critics have found the presentation to be wordy and dry, while others hail the knowledge base of the authors.
27. The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter
In The Digital Doctor, Wachter notes that technology widened a separation from doctor to patient, in part due to the general hurdles in learning new technology, but also as a denominator of installing a computer screen between patients and caregivers.
Wachter is a great, thoughtful writer, so look for the anecdotes that not only liven up the material for better readability but provide insight for positive change.
Best Books on the Future of Healthcare and Healthcare Technology
Programs, AI, funding, and healthcare applications are all growing and becoming reasonable concerns for everyone from patients to doctors, researchers, policymakers, and more, especially in light of our world’s dynamic and rapidly changing systems.
28. Augmented Health(care): The End Of The Beginning by Lucien Engelen
In Augmented Health(care), Engelen strategizes the navigation of the future of healthcare, first by examining what is happening inside the current IT and digital systems, which includes the monopolization of services. Then, he exposes the inefficiencies and cracks in the system to argue for ways to change the trajectory.
29. Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: AI, Machine Learning, and Deep and Intelligent Medicine Simplified for Everyone by Parag Mahajan, MD
Dr. Mahajan’s book details the influence of artificial intelligence in nearly every aspect of healthcare. You’ll see it in ethical decision-making, applications in education, the fight against COVID, throughout start-up companies, and more—AI is everywhere.
What’s more, AI is gaining broader use in patient care decision-making, which should concern all parties involved.
30. Biomedical Informatics: Computer Applications in Health Care and Biomedicine, Fifth Edition by Editors Edward H. Shortliffe, James J. Cimino, and Michael F. Chiang
Using extensive backgrounds in internal medicine and biomedical informatics, Shortliffe et al. investigate the current applications of computers and IT in management, communication, biomedical research, health care, and health in their latest edition of Biomedical Informatics.
31. Care After Covid: What the Pandemic Revealed is Broken in Healthcare and How to Reinvent It by Shantanu Nundy, MD
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nundy’s Care After Covid offers a prescription for change to the US healthcare system. Highlighting what failed is primary to securing change in the future.
Check out his recommendations for changing everything from clinical care to business and policy in a style of writing that is a pleasure to read.
32. The Future of Healthcare: Humans and Machines Partnering for Better Outcomes by Emmanuel Fombu MD, MBA
Inside The Future of Healthcare, you’ll travel from the system as it’s created today and follow the path to what Dr. Fombu sees as the future of physicians, hospitals, insurers, big pharma, and patients, including a discussion on the challenges brought forth by this innovation.
33. Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again by Eric Topol, MD
Dr. Topol’s Deep Medicine believes that the future of AI will positively impact healthcare as a whole by creating space for excellent doctor-patient care while ensuring the overall accuracy of that care.
To that extent, he says, AI will continue to grow in partnership with the medical industry, but it will not be driven by it.
34. The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and The Human Touch by Bertalan Meskó
Dr. Meskó is a “geek physician,” researcher, and medical futurist discovering how medical science fiction can become a reality in today’s healthcare industry.
Don’t go into The Guide to the Future of Medicine expecting in-depth research for each technology that’s developing. Instead, look to Meskó’s insight for what’s just over the horizon in medical advancements and technology.
35. Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare by Adam Bohr and Kaveh Memarzadeh
Authors Bohr and Memarzadeh split Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare into two sections. In the first section, you’ll get an overview of healthcare as it is today, working with the implementations and growth of AI.
In the next section, leaders in the industry will discuss how AI will function in drug design and advancements, treatments, surgery, remote patient monitoring, and, finally, patient security and the legal aspects within.
36. Reimagining Healthcare: How the Smartsourcing Revolution Will Drive the Future of Healthcare and Refocus It on What Matters Most, the Patient by Thomas Koulopoulos
Koulopoulos believes that everything to date has been on the verge of collapse or utter tragedy, yet everything in its fragmentation is nonetheless connected. So, Reimagining Healthcare is his roadmap for positive change, particularly with healthcare delivery and funding.
Development and Insight in Healthcare for Healthcare Professionals and Patients Alike
Both caregivers and patients have a personal responsibility to be informed. When it comes to the health of ourselves and others, information is power. Hopefully, some of the books on this list have piqued your interest and will help you to be a well-read patient, caregiver, or professional in the medical setting.