After too many lessons learned, I decided to finally pay attention.
This is your health. Your life. Your choice.
Each step that is taken is your choice. Be an informed consumer. Be an aware consumer. I don’t think most people would trust others with blind faith, completely disregarding their own knowledge of their condition. You know you better than anyone else. And that’s why awareness is so key here. Be aware of your experience. Be aware of your surroundings. Know your options.
Take control! Become the “empowered patient”.
Educate Yourself and Be Proactive
Research, research, research! Listen to what your body is saying to you. Document what you are experiencing. Keep a log of any complications and try to find correlations.
Don’t wait until someone tells you to. Don’t earn the label of the “passive patient.” It may cost you your life.
Don’t view your problems as a mere inconvenience. If you don’t take your health seriously, no one else is going to pick up the mantle and do it for you.
There are many resources online for you to help investigate your symptoms. Many people I know default on WebMD. There are other organizations such as the American Medical Association, Mayo Clinic, and the World Health Organization.
Those same organizations can help you investigate your providers. Healthgrades offers patient reviews of their physicians. Most of these websites, as well as organization websites (if your provider is through a clinic or larger hospital network, for example) will describe the physician/professional’s background. Find someone who can meet your needs, and has studied the appropriate the areas.
Ask for a referral. There are no stupid questions, and no questions should go unanswered. If your provider cannot give an answer and cannot investigate further, ask for them to point you to someone who can.
Listen to Your Gut
If something doesn’t feel right about a provider, communicate those concerns. Maybe it’s poor customer service. Maybe they are hesitant to give straight answers. Maybe their communication is on a different level, or maybe even on a distant planet! If they aren’t meeting your needs, communicate your concerns. If they still aren’t trying to rise to the occasion (or simply cannot), find someone who can.
Help Facilitate in Building Your Relationship with Your Provider
Communicate, communicate, communicate! Communication is a two-way street. Not only does the provider need to be speaking with you about what they are doing, investigating, treating, and the hows and whys of that, but also the provider needs to hear from you what is going on with your body. Again, you know your feelings better than an outsider. Providers are not psychic!
If the provider doesn’t listen or act as your advocate as well, then they aren’t your “health representative.” Customer service plays a role in the healthcare field, also.
Keep in mind that being respectful does not mean rolling over and accepting anything you are told. See: Educate Yourself (we covered this, like, 2 seconds ago).
You know the old boy scouts’ motto: Be prepared. That applies here too, ladies and gentlemen! When seeing your physician, always have your list of medications, list of symptoms and their patterns (if any), medical history, and so on and so forth.
Once again- be active in your healthcare. Invest time now. Empower yourself.
Really, that’s what this boils down to. If you’ve ever listened to Jillian Michaels or Dr. Katja Van Herle, you know what I’m laying down here.
You are the only You that you’ve got. I think you are worth the investment in your health and ultimately your knowledge as well. Use the voice you’ve got while you’ve got it!
Have you got more advice to offer on how to become empowered in your healthcare? Please comment! We want this to be a resource for those seeking to improve their health and lives.