Your health is one of the most important things in life. You simply can’t take it for granted. You also don’t have to settle for healthcare that doesn’t fit your beliefs or lifestyle.
So much has changed in the past year. Many of us have seen family or loved ones suffer from COVID or deal with mental health issues from quarantine or isolation. We’ve also learned to communicate better using tech and online solutions.
In healthcare, many providers offered telehealth or online doctor appointments rather than forcing patients to come to the office for an in-person visit. If your doctor is now asking you to return to in-office visits, remember that you have a choice.
Virtual doctor visits are pretty convenient. You don’t have to sit in the lobby or waiting room for the doctor to show up. You make your appointment and when it’s time, it happens. You don’t have to travel or risk exposure to sick people while you’re waiting.
While there are many times an in-person visit is important, routine healthcare can often be handled remotely. If your doctor doesn’t offer virtual visits, consider changing providers. Don’t settle for less than what you want.
If you’re not getting the healthcare you want or the way you want it, it’s time to speak up.
One study found that one out of every three hospitals is not meeting established performance metrics. Despite advances in medicine, many healthcare providers do not employ best practices. This creates a gap in health care that’s simply unacceptable — especially when medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the US behind only cancer and heart disease.
While doctors and other health professionals are in charge of providing treatment, you are in charge of looking out for yourself. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information online to research conditions and medical advances, although you do have to be careful about what you read.
Some doctors may dislike it when you bring them a study or research you found online and ask them about it. However, many doctors welcome it and will take the time to discuss it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, stop and ask. Require your healthcare providers to explain things in a language you can understand and require them to justify a treatment plan.
For example, you may want to ask a question such as this:
- What is the reason you’re suggesting this treatment or screening?
- What is the evidence that supports this method as effective?
- Have you considered alternatives and why did you not choose them?
- What are the risks of following this treatment?
- What are the risks of not following this treatment?
- What else could this be?
If your doctor won’t take the time to answer these questions or doesn’t provide an acceptable explanation, it may be time to find a different healthcare provider. Healthcare should be a joint decision between doctors and patients and you always have the right to ask questions and get answers.
It’s not just about making sure you’re more informed and understand what’s happening with your healthcare. Shared decision-making has been shown to lead to better patient outcomes. When you discuss and agree on a healthcare action plan, treatment:
- Better reflects the patient’s goals and values
- Increase patient satisfaction
- Improves doctor-patient communication
- Creates better results
- Improves patient compliance
The majority of patients trust their doctors. This can result in a reluctance to ask questions or take a more active role in their healthcare. At the same time, however, many patients feel they did not have adequate input into health decisions.
You can change that by asking questions and getting answers. The best outcomes result when there is patient participation and patients feel they are equal partners in healthcare and actively participate in the process.
It’s your life. You must participate in the planning and performance of health decisions. And, if you are not getting the desired results, you need to re-evaluate the treatment plan with your doctor. Nobody will advocate for you more than you— but only if you take an active role in your healthcare.
When you are engaged with your doctor, you realize these benefits:
- Better understand your health, conditions, and treatments
- Better informed about your options before making decisions
- Understand the pros and cons of different healthcare options
- Have the information you need to evaluate options effectively
- Better prepared to have important discussions
Research shows that patients forget more than half the information that’s communicated during an appointment. As much as half of the time, information is remembered incorrectly. Whether you are doing a virtual office visit or an in-person visit, take notes to help remember what’s being said.
All of this is about taking control of your health and not settling for care that doesn’t meet your goals. Patients that are engaged with their healthcare are more likely to follow treatment plans, which leads to better outcomes.