From Elizabeth DeRosa of Finding The Way Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & Author
Patient to Advocate Lessons
Today most Americans rely on healthcare professionals to “manage” their health and well-being. We listen to the experts about our physical concerns and follow the treatment plan laid out to us with strict guidance. We do it without asking many questions or getting a second opinion. Most of us follow the medical advice in an attempt to eliminate symptoms or disease, to feel better, and so that we can get back to our daily lives quickly.
While it is necessary to follow the protocol advised by your doctor, it is also important to become your own advocate in terms of your health. Our healthcare system now employs patient advocates as part of a multi-disciplinary team that specialize in supporting patients with issues ranging from consent, privacy and confidentiality, and patient rights.
But, did you know that you can be your own advocate? Not many people understand that you can become your own advocate and contribute to your own healthcare decisions that make you an active member of any medical team working on your behalf. You can do this whether you are visiting the doctor for a well check-up, sick visit, surgical procedure, post-operative care, or being followed for a chronic disease.
Tips to Become Your Own Self-Advocate
- We are all uniquely different and a treatment plan that works for one person may not work for another. This does not mean you or your doctor have failed, it means that another approach must be taken to activate your body’s own ability to heal itself. The doctor is the medical expert but you are an expert on you and your body.
- Become an active and engaged participant in your treatment plan. Do not be a passive by-stander. This is your life! You are paying the doctor to work for you. If it doesn’t feel right, seek out a different doctor or get a second opinion.
- Get a copy of your medical and/or prescription issue. Review your history! Keep a medical journal if desired.
- Communication is crucial. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or to tell your doctor, “I don’t understand”. Your doctor must take the time to answer any and all question that you have regarding your concerns.
- Be prepared and come to your appointment with a list of questions. It is easy to forgot them during the appointment.
- Understand how your insurance plan works. The insurance industry is a complex system within the medical umbrella that can leave patients frustrated and exhausted. Know what services are covered and plan accordingly with you doctor.
- Know your doctor’s medical background. Where and what did they study? Observe their manners and behaviors. Do they listen to your concerns, show respect for this partnership, communicate effectively, and have a commitment to your well-being?
The doctor-patient relationship is changing today. This relationship is essential and must be utilized effectively for delivering high-quality healthcare to you. It is important to forge an improved dialogue, become an active participant, and ask questions so that you can become knowledgeable and empowered in regard to your health and wellness.