6 Tips for Being Your Own Health Advocate

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Health Advocate

Let’s be honest: Not everyone looks forward to their monthly physicals. Nonetheless, keeping up with frequent doctor’s checkups is crucial to living a happy and healthy life. Frequent visits to a healthcare provider facilitate the early identification of health conditions at their most treatable stage, allowing you to explore a greater array of treatment options.

In addition to doctor visits, having health insurance is essential for ensuring maximum health security. This holds especially true for residents of states like Kansas, where healthcare access is ranked at #25 compared to other states.

While relying on your doctor for your health is indispensable, the good news is that there are ways to become your own health advocate. When visiting your doctor, consider implementing the following tips to ensure you receive the care and assistance you rightfully deserve.

1. Trust Yourself

No one understands your body and health better than you do. Even your partner can’t describe your situation as accurately as you can. When you visit a doctor, trust your knowledge and confidently explain your case. Provide detailed information about any changes in your body, allergies, or symptoms. Your input is essential for an accurate diagnosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading causes of death in Kansas are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, and strokes, with heart disease and cancer frequently swapping the top two spots. This information is crucial for your doctor to prescribe appropriate treatment or, if necessary, to refer you to a compounding pharmacy in Kansas. Expert pharmacists can provide the necessary medication and counsel you on its proper usage to help you manage your condition effectively.

2. Ask Questions

Don’t be nervous about asking questions to your healthcare provider to ensure you have been understood correctly. Doctors are there to help you, and they are responsible for ensuring you understand your health situation and treatment options.

Seek clarification and speak up when something doesn’t feel right. Bringing a list of questions along when visiting your doctor is also a good idea. It will help you focus your discussion on the most important aspects.

Ask about routine health maintenance practices to ensure everything is in order. Inquire about recommended screenings for your age, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, or vaccinations. Additionally, seek guidance on nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices.

If your doctor recommends a new prescription, ask them why they have prescribed it, its potential side effects, and dosage requirements.

3. Research Your Diagnosis

If you have access to resources, research your diagnosis, medications, treatment options, prescribed tests, and more for a better understanding. Understanding your condition empowers you to confidently engage with your healthcare provider during follow-up appointments and participate in your health-related decisions.

When researching your condition, use reliable resources such as medical websites, government health agencies, or academic journals. Understand the common symptoms associated with your diagnosis and their progression. This information is crucial for recognizing changes in your health and communicating them with your doctor.

4. Take Notes

There are many things to discuss when visiting your doctor, and it’s nearly impossible to remember all the details. So, it’s a good practice to take notes while talking to your doctor for future reference.

When taking notes, jot down the following points:

  • The treatment plan, including any procedures or lifestyle changes your doctor recommends
  • The date and time of any follow-up appointments or tests
  • The complete diagnosis to research the specific condition you’re dealing with
  • The specific dosage requirements and instructions on how to take the medications

After returning, discuss everything with a friend or partner to better understand and process the information for improved decision-making. They can also help identify any details you might have missed during the appointment and ensure that you follow your doctor’s advice to effectively manage your health.

5. Stay Connected with Your Doctor

Your relationship with the doctor doesn’t have to be limited to in-person meetings. You can maintain contact with them between your regular appointments through email or phone.

If you don’t receive a response to your calls or messages, remember the three P’s: Be patient, pleasant, and persistent. Doctors also receive messages and calls from their other patients, so they may need time to respond to everyone.

However, if you don’t receive a response for an extended period, consider sending a polite reminder to let them know about your request or inquire if someone else can assist you.

6. Be Honest with Your Doctor

You must be honest about your health history with your doctor to ensure the right diagnosis. Share your previous prescriptions, history of your illnesses, lab tests and reports, and so on. Don’t forget to discuss your family’s medical history, as it often reveals useful information that can lead to a better diagnosis of your issue.

Furthermore, discuss any changes you have noticed in your condition since your last visit, such as changes in bathroom habits, sleep quality, appetite, etc. Most importantly, don’t assume that anything you know about your health is unimportant; let your doctor be the judge.

Conclusion

By being your own health advocate, you can take control of your healthcare experience by actively participating in your healthcare decisions. You can express your concerns, ask questions, identify gaps, and state your preferences.

Remember, being your own healthcare advocate also involves taking medications on time and following your doctor’s guidance for all aspects of your health, ensuring a proactive and informed approach to your well-being.

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