You have some control over the quality of the medical care you receive. If you invest time in becoming a participant in your own treatment, rather than a passive recipient, you’ll experience better outcomes. Here are five basic tips to get you started:
Don’t Keep Secrets From Your Doctor
You may try to maintain a certain image with your boss, your neighbors or even your spouse – but you need to come clean with your doctor. If you actually hit the donut shop every morning instead of the gym, your doctor is the one who needs to know. That includes disclosing any drugs and herbal remedies you use, your full medical history and your current health habits.
Understand the Difference Between Doctors and Wizards
Doctors don’t get issued magic wands when they graduate from medical school, and the very best ones still make mistakes. Your responsibility is to collaborate with your providers in the effort to prevent as many of those mistakes as you can. This includes making sure your surgery team is planning to operate on the correct body part, politely asking if health care workers have washed their hands, asking questions about your prescriptions and bringing a friend or family member to serve as an extra set of eyes while you’re in the hospital.
Inform Yourself About Alternative Health Practices
Complementary medicine and alternative health practices are not necessarily in opposition to traditional medical care. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services actually has a consumer information page entitled “Herbs at a Glance.” You may be able to coordinate with your doctor and come up with a plan that includes the benefits of safe substances, such as garlic or cranberry juice.
Participate in Rating Providers
Today’s health care landscape is built around outcomes, and patients are a vital piece of the feedback process. The AMA’s Journal of Ethics urges patients to choose providers (when possible) according to their published online performance ratings, and to take the time to assess and review the medical care you receive.
Make Friends With Your Health Care Plan
It may not be the most entertaining company, but you need to spend some quality time with all its little brochures, handouts, letters and web pages. You’ll save yourself many hours of frustration if you have a clear sense of how to get pre-approval for procedures and whom to call if there’s a billing error. Your HealthSherpa Consumer Dashboard is a great place to start!
If you have questions about managing your health insurance coverage, our licensed brokers are happy to talk things over with you. Call or make an appointment anytime.