What’s on the Horizon for Public Health 

By Shelley Svec, Horizon Public Health 

It is important to advocate for your best interests in all aspects of life, but even more so, when it comes to your health. How can you feel more in control of your health and ongoing care? You can do this by taking an active role in your healthcare. You don’t need to have an extensive medical background to advocate for your health. Your healthcare provider has the medical expertise, but when it comes to having the full picture of your health and health history, you hold a huge piece of the puzzle. And both of these pieces are critical to ensuring you get the right care.

Going to a healthcare appointment can cause anxiety for many people for many different reasons. Not knowing what to expect at an appointment or how to effectively communicate and/or express our needs can cause anxiety, stress and sometimes even fear–Will it go well? Will I be heard and understood? Will my needs be met? What does my provider need to know? Will I remember to share all that I want to share with the provider? Will I know how or understand my treatment?

By being an active participant in your healthcare journey and sharing your concerns, it can make it easier for your provider to more clearly understand what you are experiencing; to better provide the care that you need and are comfortable with; and ensure that you understand the how’s and the why’s for that care.

So, how can you take a more active role in your healthcare? Here are some tips that can help:

Before Your Appointment:

  Prepare a list of your current medications and supplements or plan to bring them with you.

• Make a list of questions you want to ask during your appointment.

  Complete any paperwork the clinic has requested.

  Plan to take notes, or bring a friend or relative along, to help remember the conversation.

During Your Appointment:

• Give the provider your current medication list.

•Tell your provider about your symptoms or issues.

•Answer your provider’s questions so your concern is better understood.

•Ask your own questions, for example:

*How do you spell the name of that medicine and are there any side effects?

*Will this new medicine interact with medicines I’m already taking?

* What is the test for?  When and how will I get the results?

*Why do I need this procedure or treatment?

*How will I feel after the procedure?

*Are there other options?

*What happens if I don’t do anything?

*Ask for an appointment summary.

After Your Appointment:

•Write down what your provider says to help you remember the conversation.

•Make follow-up appointments and write them down.

•Follow your provider’s instructions.

•Get prescriptions filled.

•Complete tests or labs your provider ordered.

•Call your provider’s office if you need clarifications or if you forgot to ask a question.

Are you nervous to ask your provider questions? Don’t be. Your provider wants to answer your questions. You may be surprised to learn that your medical team wants to know if you need help understanding your medical issues and treatments.

By taking an active role in your healthcare journey, you can play a big part in improving your health outcomes, your healthcare satisfaction and even your quality of life. And, much like “Rosie the Riveter” on J. Howard Miller’s famous “We Can Do It!” inspirational poster, you can do it too!