How to be Your Own Best Advocate
Being Your Own Advocate
In case you haven’t been paying attention to changes in America’s health care system, there’s a general idea that needs to get out to as many people as possible: the gist of it is that, in most cases, today’s consumer needs to be much more engaged in their care and ready to act as their own advocate in order to get the health care and treatment that they need, no matter what their health is like.
You may have heard something like this already: from all corners of the health related media, patients are hearing that they need to “be their own advocates” and get vigilant about not just what they pay for health care, but what kinds of health care they receive and whether or not it fits their specific needs.
But what does it mean to be your own advocate? Looking beyond the cliché, you can obtain good, concrete ideas of how to go about interacting with a family doctor in ways that will help you get better access to the health care you need.
Patient Engagement: What it Involves
The good news on this front is that you may already do a lot of what you need to do to advocate for yourself in a healthcare environment. This includes getting educated about a particular health concern before entering the doctor’s office. It means thinking pre-emptively about the treatment you would like and whether you think it will work, rather than just appearing at the practice and asking about what you should do in response to a particular health condition. It also means educating yourself about the various screenings and non-emergency conditions that can lead to long-term chronic health problems, including hypertension, high cholesterol and other concerns.
You may also do much of your own research, but there are those patients who are passive about health care, who show up at the doctor’s office because they were told to by someone else, and who have not taken the time to get educated about what’s medically routine. It’s these kinds of patients who will be likely to lose out in a fast-paced medical industry that often leaves patients rudderless and fails to really take underlying conditions into account.
What Providers Should Do
Although most experts agree that patients need to pursue some kind of basic advocacy, providers do have a big responsibility. They need to be transparent about costs, while doing their best to diagnose health conditions in a particular patient. They need to be open and hear what a patient is saying, in order to get necessary confirmation for a given treatment plan. Some providers are better at these things than others, but again, you can be vigilant about your care by researching a particular office to see whether doctors are likely to listen and respond, what their financial policies are, and how organized their staff is. It’s all part of taking more control over your health care needs and how you visit the doctor, and it’s something that will serve you and your family well in the long run.