How To Be Your Own Medical Advocate

How To Be Your Own Medical Advocate

Navigating healthcare can be hard! HMO, PPO, deductibles, specialist for this and that. It is easy to feel lost in the process or feel that it is happening to you. I want you to feel empowered! After all, it is your health we are talking about. Here are a few simple tips to help you be your own best medical advocate.

  1. Make sure your doctor has your medical records BEFORE your appointment. Helpful information to gather for your OBGYN:

    1. Abnormal Pap smear reports

    2. Pathology reports if you’ve had surgery – for example cervical biopsies, hysterectomy, removal of one or both ovary

    3. Most recent pap smear

    4. Most recent mammogram report

    5. Last years labs

    6. List of any pregnancy complications

  2. Keep a record of your medical history. A written list or note on your phone works great.

    1. Any medical diagnoses?

    2. What medicines and supplements do you take? What doses?

    3. When were your most recent screening exams? Pap? Mammogram? Colonoscopy?

    4. What surgeries have you had?

    5. Any significant family history?

    6. Having abnormal bleeding? Keep a menstrual diary.

  3. Take a trusted friend or family member with you to your appointment.

    1. They can be an extra set of ears.

    2. They can help you process the information.

    3. Ask them to take notes.

    4. Encourage them to speak up and ask questions.

  4. Do you have specific questions for your provider?

    1. Make a list of your questions

    2. Speak up. If you don’t understand an answer, ask for clarification.

    3. Communicate your goals.

    4. It’s perfectly okay to have done your research beforehand. Compare notes and get clarification from your provider.

  5. Don’t leave the office until you understand the plan for follow-up.

    1. When do I come back?

    2. How do I take the medication if one was prescribed? What side effects should I watch for?

    3. What interventions do I need to try at home?

  6. If you don’t feel heard, get a second opinion. Your voice matters.

    1. Ask friends and family for recommendations.

    2. Remember you have a choice which provider you see.