Who is in charge of your health care? Your doctor, a medical group, a loved one — or you? In the best-case scenario, the answer would be a combination of all of the above along with a few others.
"It's important to recognize yourself as a partner with your health care team," says Dan McNamara, program coordinator with the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Senior Resource Center. "By learning how to communicate effectively with your doctor and other team members and preparing for each visit, you can maximize your health care experience."
Making the most of your health care experience begins with selecting the right provider. Research the background of doctors you are considering. Learn about their education, experience and whether they are certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), commonly described as being "board certified." This information is available for all Sharp-affiliated physicians on sharp.com, or by calling 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277).
McNamara offers these 10 tips to help you prepare for your next appointment:
- Prepare a list of concerns, in order of importance.
- Bring medications or a list of current medications and dosages.
- Update your provider on any changes since your last visit.
- Mention any allergies to medications or food.
- Use tools to organize your health information, such as medication records, vial of life, vaccination history and blood pressure cards.
- Speak candidly to your provider — be honest about your lifestyle and health care habits (good and bad), recent symptoms and concerns, and be prepared to discuss sensitive subjects.
- Ask questions.
- Take notes or bring someone with you to your appointment to listen, take notes and ask questions on your behalf.
- Share your desired outcomes and work together to set goals to reach them.
- Be open to learning about new medical tests, medications and treatments.
McNamara also suggests keeping a digital or paper file of all of your medical information, the notes you've taken and any research you have done. Take a moment after each visit to read through any materials you may have received, review your notes and evaluate your overall visit experience.
"If you have prepared for your appointment, shared relevant information and taken notes of what your medical provider has told you, your visit will be a great step in improving your health and wellness," McNamara says.