Wednesday, January 30, 2013 —
Healthcare today is changing. With more access to information, more information available, and more choices about our health care, we are becoming smarter health care consumers. We, as patients have greater responsibility for our own health than ever. It is important to approach health care as a partnership. Whether with a doctor, therapist, nurse practitioner or other health care provider, when we take an active role and approach managing our health care as a partner with our provider, we participate in treatment decisions that can help to ensure we get the best care possible. One of the most important things about managing your health care is choosing and using a primary care physician. Don’t put it off. Choose a doctor and develop a relationship before you become ill or injured and need care. You can ask family, friends or neighbors for referrals. Or use the physician referral service operated by your local hospital. There are some things to consider. Does your insurance plan have any rules regarding choosing a physician? Are you more comfortable with a male or female? Where is the office located? Once you have chosen a provider, call the office to schedule a get-acquainted phone call or meeting.
Once you’ve chosen a provider, your role doesn’t end. All health care providers need information to treat a problem correctly. What you tell your provider is very important.
Keep a personal health record, including your medications, past medical history, allergies and current problems. Make a list of the questions you have for your provider and write them down. Take notes during the visit to help you remember the answers to your questions and what you have been told. The National Patient Safety Foundation recommends three questions to be used at every visit with your health care provider.
The questions are: 1.) What is my main problem? 2.) What do I need to do? 3.) Why is it important that I do it? Understanding the answers to those questions promotes the partnership between you and your provider and helps to promote better health.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, follow the treatment plan. Do what is prescribed or suggested. If you are not clear about the treatment or still have questions, call the office for clarification. Never stop or change medications without checking with your health care provider.
By viewing health care as the partnership it is, hopefully we can all find our way to better health.