While your doctor is crucial to your health care experience, you have as much agency as the doctor in ensuring you have a quality health care experience. As an involved patient, you will not only understand your doctor and his or her instructions better, but you also ensure they better understand you and your needs. Being an active member of your health care team takes engagement at all stages of a doctor's visit.

Here are a few best practices to take before, during and after your appointments to make sure you are an effective advocate for yourself:

Before your appointment

Before heading to the doctor's office, make a list of all the medications you take, including your prescription medicines, over the counter drugs such as aspirin or antacids, vitamins or dietary supplements. At the bottom of this list, make a note of any questions you have for your doctor. It will me much easier to refer to a written list during your appointment than to try and remember your questions while also taking in what your doctor has told you. Finally, make sure you know your current medical situation, as well as past surgeries and illnesses. This may require look back at old documents or calendars to see when certain procedures took place. That way you will be prepared if your doctor has any questions for you about your medical history. 

During your appointment

If your doctor gives you instructions to follow, be sure to ask questions to make sure you understand what he or she is telling you. At the same token, if your doctor suggests a certain treatment, you should feel comfortable asking him or her what other options you have. If your appointment takes the form of a two-sided conversation, it will indicate that you are engaged and committed to your health.

After your appointment

When you get home, it's important to follow the instructions your doctor discussed with you. If, upon returning home, you realize that you do not understand the instructions or cannot follow them for some reason, feel free to call you doctor to clarify or change your approach. Additionally, if you feel your symptoms get worse after your appointment, let your doctor know. At the very least, they will be able to offer you some peace of mind if the worsening of your symptoms is to be expected. 

Outside of your appointment schedule, understanding your health insurance policy is another key to being an informed and involved patient. For more health insurance help and information, be sure to check back here again, or feel free to contact a member of our team to learn more.