First, remember health care is a team, and you are the captain. The doctors, nurses, pharmacists, techs, and insurance providers are all integral team members. It can be challenging to figure out where to start, whether faced with a new diagnosis or establishing care.
Tips to help you ask for what you need and advocate for yourself or the person you care for:
- Keep track of all documents, files, images, appointments related to any care you have or will receive.
- Keep a list of all medications you take or have taken. This should include prescriptions, over-the-counter, supplements. If you put it in or on your body, it should be on your list.
- Know your family's health history. A good rule is to know back to both sets of your grandparents. Knowing your family's history helps to figure out what risks you may have now or in the future. While it's good to know about your in-laws and relatives related by marriage, you probably don't share genetic material with them. You do not need to include their information in your records.
- Keep your appointments and follow up. These are set based on your health and to monitor and adjust the plan. If appointments are missed, the chance to make adjustments is missed. More importantly, the opportunity for communication about what is working for YOU is missed. This applies to preventative care as well. These are great opportunities to communicate with your team, update your providers and maintain your relationship with your team.
- Ask questions. You are the most important person on the team. You need to know the plan. If you don't understand, you deserve to have an explanation that makes sense.
When you can understand your health, the plan, and know what you need and who can help you, your health is easier to manage.
Health.gov: Take Charge of Your Health Care
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: The 10 Questions You Should Know
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Be More Engaged in Your Healthcare