Taking matters into your own hands: How to be your own health advocate
Whenever one experiences a health issue, they usually trust the medical system with their health and lives, confident that the doctors and all other healthcare professionals who attend them know what they’re doing and have the best interest of the patient at heart. In an ideal world, that’s how things would work, but the reality can be slightly different in some situations. The medical system is not an infallible machine and doctors are not robots; they’re human beings prone to errors just like everyone else.
This doesn’t mean one should question every decision a doctor makes or dismiss the practices of the medical establishment altogether. But one may want to consider being more proactive when it comes to their own health. After all, taking care of one’s health and body is each person’s responsibility. As a patient, one has the power to decide what’s best for them, and it could be argued that each person should be actively involved in their healthcare journey. Every patient has a voice and they can use it to try and ensure they get the care and treatment they require.
Here are the steps a person could take in order to gain more control and start advocating for their own wellbeing.
Prioritise regular check-ups
As any health professional will say, prevention is better than cure. A person don’t have to feel sick or experience worrying symptoms to pay a visit to the doctor. It could be worth scheduling regular check-ups even if there are no red flags in sight. That could help one to catch potential health problems early and treat them before they become a major issue, or avoid them completely. When it comes to prevention, there’s no better way to keep health issues at bay than adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Learn about health insurance
As the healthcare system has become more complex, so has health insurance. It’s not easy for the average patient to know how to navigate the system and understand how insurance works. A lot of people get tangled up in insurance terms and the procedures they have to follow in order to receive the support they require. Then they end up receiving high medical bills that they’ll have to pay for out of their own pockets. For those who want to avoid this scenario, it’s advisable to learn the ins and outs of health insurance and understand what is covered by each policy and what is not.
Know the medical history of one’s family
Just because one’s parents or relatives suffered from certain ailments, it doesn’t mean one will develop the same health issues sooner or later. However, genes can impact on health and disease. If some close family members have been diagnosed with diabetes, for example, a patient is more likely to develop diabetes at one point in their life.
So, knowing one’s family’s medical history can help to identify potential health risks and make the necessary changes to reduce them. Patients might want to have an honest conversation with their family and ask them about their health problems. For those who have been diagnosed with an illness that has genetic implications, it is important to let family members know about it.
Ask the right questions
Developing a good doctor-patient relationship is extremely important as it can lead to better healthcare outcomes. Efficient communication plays a great role in building such a relationship, and the effort must come from both parties. Many people believe that asking their healthcare provider questions will ruin this endeavour, but it’s exactly the opposite. Most doctors are more than willing to educate their patients and answer all their health-related questions. The only problem here is the limited time doctors have with each patient, so a patient may want to consider writing questions or the topics they want to discuss and having them ready before entering the doctor’s office.
Get a second opinion
Diagnostic errors are amongst the most common medical errors to be reported by patients. So, those who are not entirely comfortable with the diagnostic they have received from their doctor, or those who feel their concerns have been brushed aside, could get a second opinion from another health professional. This may help cast aside any doubts about the appropriate treatment and give the patient peace of mind.
Also, anyone who fears they were misdiagnosed and whose health got worse as a result might be entitled to compensation for the damages suffered. It’s possible to find out more about patient rights and the recommended course of action by accessing resources such as how-to-claim.co.uk.
Get educated on health matters
Thanks to the internet, there is a wealth of information at everyone’s fingertips. With just a few clicks one can find out everything they want to know about any number of health conditions and the treatment options available. One may wish to take advantage of the opportunity to educate themselves on health matters. This doesn’t mean patients should become their own doctor and start taking treatments without consulting a physician first. However, one can potentially start research and learn more about the aspects that are of interest so as to have a better idea of what one is dealing with.
Keep a health record
Those who are seeing one doctor after another may not be surprised to see some of the data from their medical record gets lost along the way. The next doctor might not receive the full report on their health situation and that can lead to many unpleasant surprises, from exams that one has to repeat to inefficient treatments and so on. It’s preferable not to have to deal with further health issues due to some technical errors in the system. However, there is a fairly simple way to potentially avoid such a situation – keep a health record. Some recommend keeping copies of all the investigations, exams and treatments over the years and storing them somewhere safe. This could help reduce the risk of medical errors in the long run.
The editorial unit