Patient-centered care puts you at the center of your healthcare team. That's a great place to be, but it can also be intimidating. Healthcare is a complex system that delivers a wide variety of services. How do you know which options are right for you? What can you do to be an empowered patient and an active member of your own care team?
Here are four easy ways to be your own health advocate so that you and your care team can create a better patient experience:
1. Come to your doctor appointment with questions
If you've made a doctor appointment, your health has been on your mind. You might even have a mental list of how you've been feeling or changes in your body. Make a record of these and share them with your doctor.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Remember, your doctor is your health partner. He or she wants to help you understand so that you can take steps toward better health.
2. Get help coordinating your care
As your family grows, your health needs will change. However, your family doctor or primary care provider will keep pace with your changing needs by connecting you with the experts you need when you need them. Ask your family doctor about referrals and he or she will help you coordinate care.
If you should ever need cancer care, ask your doctor about a patient navigator. These specially-trained nurses help coordinate your care, treatment, medications and appointments. They are your single point of contact for questions about your care.
3. Own your health data
Do you know the last time you got a tetanus shot? What's your cholesterol score? Knowing health information such as this can be important when seeking care, but keeping track of it is challenging. Use MyChart to help you own your health data. You can see your latest immunizations, test results and prescriptions. You can even schedule appointments or email your doctor.
4. Estimate your healthcare costs
Sometimes, the cost of healthcare causes us stress. Transparent pricing can bring peace of mind. Get a price estimate for tests and procedures. Also, talk to your insurance company about pre-authorization. You may need approval from your insurance for some procedures.
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