Advocating for yourself or a loved one at the doctor’s office is vitally important. Typically you only have a 15 minutes to get the necessary information you came for, so you need to be organized, precise and prepared if you have questions or want to discuss your health care in depth with your physician. Be respectful of your doctor’s suggestions, but make sure your voice is heard. Here are some ways to champion for your best health outcomes:
- One of the most important factors is to take responsibility for your own health. No one will do it for you not even your doctor. You probably know what living a “healthy lifestyle” is, and if you don’t, research the basics. Try your best to live the best life possible for your body.
- Foster a strong doctor-patient relationship. Even if it’s uncomfortable at times, be honest to get the best outcomes.
- Be prepared for your appointment. Before you visit the doctor’s office, make a list of your concerns and questions, and have them on hand when you see your physician. This will not only help you not forget your concerns, but it will allow you to take charge of the appointment and have the conversation go in the direction you would like. If you don’t understand your doctor’s responses, ask more questions. Your doctor will definitely appreciate that you are interested in your own health care.
- Before any appointment, bring a current list of all medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs and homeopathic medicines. If your doctor writes a prescription, make sure you know exactly what it is for, what the side effects might be, and ask if there are other non-prescriptions ways to handle your problem. Also confirm with your doctor and pharmacist or doctor that the prescription will not adversely impact your health due to the other medications you take.
- Be an expert about your health conditions. Mayo Clinic is an excellent online resource for patient information. Also if you have a specific health condition, the condition may have a collection of website resources and associations where further research can be found.
- Don’t be a passive about your health. Take an active role. If you cannot afford some of the tests or medications, are there other options? If your doctor tells you there is nothing they can do for your pain, or will not listen to you, ask friends and relatives for their recommendations and seek out a new physician.
Bonus tip: Always check with your health insurance company to better understand what they do and do not cover before you see a doctor or receive treatment. If you take a holistic approach to your health care, you will feel better about your care, your doctor, and yourself.