Taking charge of your own medical care might seem a bit intimidating. However, the reality is that there’s never been a better time to be an advocate for your own health. You can’t always rely on doctors to make the right decisions concerning your health.
It’s up to you to understand your health and what your options are concerning it. To that end, we’ve put together the steps below to ensure you get the best medical care.
1. Be Proactive
A proactive patient is one who pushes for the best medical care possible – the best advice, the best bedside manner, and the best medical equipment. A proactive patient doesn’t take the doctor’s word as gospel but questions it when something doesn’t sound right or the doctor isn’t listening.
You know your body best. If you aren’t willing to speak up for yourself, no one else will when it comes to getting the medical care you deserve. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be informed every step of the way.
2. Keep a Schedule
It doesn’t matter how you do it – a paper calendar, post-it notes, your smartphone – just be sure to keep all your medical appointments organized so you know when and where they are. This applies to your primary care physician, specialists, dentists, optometrists, and any other medical personnel you might need to see.
If you’re using a digital device to manage your appointments, have it remind you a week in advance of each appointment so you have time to adjust your schedule if you need to. Remember, your doctor’s time is valuable, so missing appointments because you’re unorganized is unacceptable (and it is a poor way to manage your health too).
3. Get Your Medical Records
Even if you’re in perfect health and need nothing more than an annual physical, it’s a good idea to have a copy of your medical records on hand. You never know when an emergency may make it difficult to recall your physical health or when visiting a new doctor may be necessary. With your medical records on hand, you’re prepared for anything.
4. Always Follow Up – Even When Your Doctor Says They Will Call You
If your doctor says the clinic will call you with your test results, ask when they expect the results to be in, and then call the office yourself if you don’t hear from them. Doctors’ offices are busy places, and things like follow-up phone calls take a backseat to more urgent matters, especially when the results are unremarkable.
On that same note, when your doctor recommends a follow-up appointment to check the status of a specific condition, make sure you keep the appointment, even if you’re feeling better. The follow-up can detect things you might not see or feel, so don’t skip it.
5. Trust Your Gut
You know your body best. If you’ve been dealing with the same symptoms for a long time but the treatment just doesn’t seem to be working, it may be time to get a second (or third) opinion.
You are in charge of your health. Your doctor works for you, and while it may be hard to be assertive, it’s important to be clear so you receive the medical care you deserve. Ultimately, it’s your health. Don’t let fear or politeness keep you from getting the best medical care possible.