It has only taken me ten years since my first article to return to this topic! I always intended to do so, but life got in the way.
In that first article, I largely addressed medication issues. Now we’re going to talk about being your own patient advocate.
What is a patient advocate? It’s an individual who assists a patient to interact productively with healthcare providers. They might make appointments, fill out forms, go to appointments with you, ask questions of the provider, help you remember what you wanted to ask, or assist in resolving payment issues.
Most of us aren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford a professional patient advocate, but if you have someone in your life with medical knowledge, you might ask them to assist you in that way. The rest of us, though, need to do it all ourselves. It can be a daunting task, particularly for those with chronic illnesses or multiple health problems. It’s important, though, in order to get good, quality care.
The first step in being your own patient advocate is to educate yourself regarding your diagnoses. Use credible, current sources and read up on whatever conditions or symptoms you have. Here’s an excellent resource for weighing the credibility of a website: Judging Online Information.
Don’t forget to use offline resources, as well. Go to your local library and speak to a reference librarian if you need help there. I subscribe to publications that help me track current research on my own conditions. Setting up Google Alerts to find new information about those conditions is also a smart tactic.
If you’re having trouble finding sources of good information on a particular condition, please let me know. I’ll be happy to help you search!
In the next article, we’ll talk about tracking your symptoms. Here’s hoping it will be less than ten years before that article is published! Try looking for it next week.