Being an Active Part of Your Own Health Care Team, Part II

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.

Pho­to by Olia Nay­da on Unsplash

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.

Cyn is Katie's mom, Esther's Mémé, and a Support Engineer. She lives in the Atlanta area with her life partner, Rick, and their critters. She knits, does counted-thread needlework, reads, makes music, plays TTRPGs, and spends too much time online.
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