Take Control of Your Health by Advocating for Yourself
Even if you're generally satisfied with your healthcare, you can get more out of your healthcare plan by advocating for yourself. It can be challenging to take control of your healthcare and outcomes. Here are some helpful tips:
One of the top ways you can advocate for yourself is by asking questions. If you don't understand something, ask your doctor, the office staff, the doctor's assistant or anyone else involved. Don't give up until you get a satisfactory answer.
Maintain Your Health Records
It's essential to keep your medical records organized and available. Keep copies of visit summaries and scan them electronically so they aren't lost. Find a free online tool to store your x-rays and other medical images all in one place. You can check the photos, upload them and then merge them into a downloadable electronic file online. Some examples include My Chart and Pocket Health.
Choose a Competent Doctor
Being a good advocate for yourself also means choosing the right general practitioner. Aim for someone who respects your opinion and allows shared decision-making. Interview potential providers or get recommendations to find a doctor who listens to your concerns and doesn't blow you off. If your current doctor doesn't seem to listen to you, reach out to a new provider. You can also look for family doctors accepting new patients by using "Find a Doctor" on the website of your region.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Start by making a pact with yourself to live a healthier lifestyle. Focus on eating wholesome, nutritious foods and shop the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the chip and canned food aisles. Add exercise to your routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or scheduling a daily walk break during lunch. Gentle stretching and yoga have also been shown to help with anxiety, mindfulness and breathing. Keep a healthier home by decluttering, letting in more natural light, and adding mood-enhancing indoor plants.
Schedule Preventative Care
Preventative care is essential to keep your body healthy and strong. Visit your doctor yearly for your annual physical, and schedule preventive diagnostic tests when recommended. Your annual physical should include blood work to ensure that your levels are within normal range. When you are having any testing done, be sure to ask the technician to copy your family doctor on any results.
Research Symptoms and Conditions
Patients can also better understand their medical or mental health conditions by learning about them from trusted websites like the Mayo Clinic and MedlinePlus that provide accurate medical information. When diagnosed with a new condition, ask your doctor for resources about it so you can understand your symptoms and medications.
We can take control of our mental and physical health and improve the quality of the care we receive by living a healthier lifestyle, advocating for ourselves, asking questions, learning about our conditions, and partnering with a doctor whom you trust.