You know your body best. So when you’re experiencing abnormal changes or symptoms, it’s critical to advocate for your own health and wellness while you seek medical attention.
Prepare for Your Appointment
Creating a successful experience with your medical provider starts before you even step foot in the doctor’s office. Becoming your own best advocate involves taking early steps to stay on top of your health symptoms.
Keeping a journal is a great way to monitor how your health changes over time. In addition to helping track and monitor your symptoms, a journal can also be a great tool to serve as a general hub for your own personal health.
Make notes of each doctor’s appointment you attend, what was discussed, and any plans for the future. Keep a log of all medications you take, including prescription and dosage information. You can even dedicate a page to vaccination documentation. All of this can create an incredibly valuable personal resource.
When it is safe to do so, consider inviting another person to your appointment. Having a family member or close friend there with you is a great support system, and can provide any necessary assistance with documentation. This way, someone else will be taking notes while you can focus on your interaction with your doctor.
Ask 3 Key Questions
Asking questions during your appointment is an essential step. Many people struggle with what to ask, wondering how to phrase questions or where to begin.
A good place to start is with three basic questions that can help you understand any given health condition:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
Hearing this background information is critical to you getting on the same page as your provider so that you can both work together toward the best outcome.
After establishing this baseline, you can inquire about even more details about your situation. No matter how general or how specific, your doctor is there to guide you and offer expertise in any way possible.
Seek Outside Help
Oftentimes caring for a medical condition is not a one-stop shop. Even when your doctor is helpful and prioritizes your health, you may still need to lean on other professionals throughout the process.
One other source is your insurance provider. Many companies offer case management assistance which can be a useful tool to navigate your journey. Take the time to check with your provider and see if they can recommend any community resources to facilitate compliance with your healthcare.
You can also look into the free educational resources at senior centers and hospitals to deepen your knowledge on a range of health care issues. The community health department is another useful destination to consider. Don’t be afraid to search for others that are specific to your community.
Finally, it’s important to know when to look for a second opinion. If after undergoing required treatment you are not seeing any improvement, it might be time to look elsewhere. When this happens, be sure to check with your insurance carrier to confirm a second opinion is covered and request all health records to bring to your next doctor.