Our healthcare providers play an essential role in guiding us to optimal health. Regularly attending our health-related appointments and following up on the advice received by those we trust for our health care is vital. It is just as crucial for us to be our health advocates. We all have particular questions, preferences and concerns. Communicating our needs and developing a collaborative plan of treatment will aid in our understanding of the status of our current health.
Here are a few ways we all can manage our health:
1. Keep Track: Keep a calendar of current and upcoming health-related appointments. Ask your healthcare provider how often treatments, screenings or assessments should be scheduled for you. Set up reminders to call your healthcare team, so you don’t miss assessment or treatment opportunities from year to year.
2. Be a note-taker: Write down questions you or your loved ones have concerning your health. These questions will help involve your healthcare team in your priorities and concerns and further develop a treatment plan that best fits you. Bring these notes with you at each visit.
3. Prevention, Prevention, Prevention! Have I stressed this point enough here? So much of our medical research points to the importance of preventative health care to “ward off” health issues or catch diagnosis early on to give better treatment outcomes should we become ill.
4. Know before you go: Insurance coverage is a vital issue when factoring in the cost of health care. Knowing what your insurance plan covers is helpful when deciding on your treatment plan, as not all procedures, treatments and medication costs will be covered in most cases. Remember that some out-of-pocket costs may arise, and balancing this with the priority of your health is an important consideration.
5. Who is who: Your community healthcare team can be broad depending on your preferences, conditions, concerns and health status. Here are just a few: Pharmacists, Primary Care Providers (family doctors), Medical Specialists (Endocrinologists, Nephrologists, etc.), Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Dietitians, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Dentists, Optometrists, Chiropodists or Podiatrists.