Communication is the foundation of any relationship. The definition of communication is: clear message sent and clear message received. Many people do not realize the vital role they play in their own healthcare. The expertise of your physicians are at best very limited without you communicating the whole picture that accompanies your symptoms.
It is vital that you ask questions and come prepared to each and every appointment with your physicians to stay on top of your healthcare. This allows you to focus on prevention of disease rather than waiting until severe symptoms are present – usually meaning disease is in full-effect.
A few things you can do to be your own healthcare advocate are:
- Ask Questions: Physicians operate under strict time restraints of your appointments set by insurance companies. Often times their wealth of knowledge comes out in ways many non-medical persons can understand. If something comes up during your appointment that you don’t quite understand – do not be afraid to stop and ask your doctor to explain again so you can understand. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions of ideas you may have about your own health. You live with your conditions every day and notice subtle nuances that your doctor could never possibly know. This can lead to research and ideas about your own health that the doctor might not have even considered.
- Be Prepared: Again, because time restraints are put on your doctor visits there might not be time to cover everything you have in mind. It helps to make a list of the most important issues to cover and take it with you. Don’t get distracted on tangents that aren’t on your list. If there is an issue that is pressing on your mind it is best to get this out first. Then you can focus on the remaining items you would like to cover.
- Communicate: This means being assertive. If you have concerns about the treatment plan offered by your physician don’t hesitate to ask if there are options. For example, if your doctor recommends expensive tests or lab work don’t be afraid to state that you are worried about your financial obligation for these procedures. Often times they can work with your insurance company to select laboratories or imaging centers that will lower your out-of-pocket costs.
Practicing these few suggestions will all assist you in becoming your own healthcare advocate in 2016 and beyond. Dr. Hume encourages you to be your own healthcare advocate. If you ever have questions or concerns about your appointments do not hesitate to ask. Here’s to a happy and healthy future for each of you!