Flip No. 6
Taking charge: Ten tips for patients
Make the doctor’s visit work better for you.
Long gone are the days when the doctor’s word was final. Today to ensure you get the best care from everyone involved, you need to be an active participant in your own health. You already do it at home; it’s time to step up in the doctor’s office as well. Why? Because your health and your pocketbook depend on it.
Patients that aren’t engaged spend 21 percent more in medical costs than patients that advocate for themselves, according to research out of the University of Oregon.
And the World Health Organization reports that patient engagement has been shown to improve health outcomes and overall quality of life for those with chronic conditions.
By making sure your concerns are addressed, asking questions, and getting the information you need to make informed decisions, you can work with your health care provider to find solutions that really work for you. Here are a few simple steps to help you take control of your own health.
Ways to be an empowered patient
Prepare for your visit.
Before your appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do to prepare for your visit.
Make a list of your concerns.
Rank them in order of importance, and discuss them with your doctor.
Document your symptoms.
Whether you record them on paper or in an app, make sure you share your symptoms with your doctor.
Ask your care provider questions.
Why are you telling me this? Why is this the best treatment? What are the risks and what are the benefits? Are there any other options? How will this help me?
Set goals with your care provider.
With their help, you can map out a plan and keep track of how you're doing together.
Discuss your options.
When there are several different treatment options, discuss cost, side effects, outcome, and their impact on your everyday life with both your family and your doctor.
Identify additional resources.
Ask your clinic for a list of evidence-based, patient education materials. If you're researching online on your own, consider the guidelines put together by the National Institutes of Health.
Use the whole staff of the clinic.
Getting your needs addressed sometimes means asking someone other than your doctor for help.
It's ok to switch providers.
If you're not happy or comfortable, find someone that better aligns with your needs.
Do your homework.
If a health care provider gives you patient education materials to read, make sure you take your knowledge prescription.