It’s time to be your own healthcare advocate! It used to be that a doctor’s word was final. Whatever they suggested, you did, without question. They’re the ones with the fancy degree and years of schooling, surely, they know what is best for you. However, a John Hopkins study found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with heart disease and cancer listed respectively as one and two. It is more important than ever that patients take accountability for decisions regarding their health. By getting involved in the decision-making process with their doctors or surgeons, patients feel more confident about their course of treatment and are more likely to receive better health outcomes.
Use These 7 Tips to Be a Better Health Advocate
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask about the benefits, side effects, and disadvantages of a recommended procedure. If you are unclear about something, ask your doctor to explain it again. Also, prepare for your doctor’s appointment by making a list of questions you have and prioritizing them ahead of time.
- Understand how your health insurance works. Knowing how your individual insurance works can help you navigate the health care system with less of a chance of ending up with costly, unexpected medical bills.
- Do your own research! In today’s digital age, you can surf the web to find out more about your condition and potential treatment options. The more you educate yourself, the better you’ll be able to advocate for your well-being and get the support you need. While the internet is a useful tool in gathering information, it cannot interpret it the way a trained professional can. So, if you find medical information online that you want to discuss, print it out and bring it with you to your appointment.
- Maintain your own records. Transferring records from doctor to doctor can be a hassle. By keeping tabs on your own records, you know they won’t get lost in the shuffle. By doing this you also can see exactly what your doctors are seeing. This year, Apple released an update to their Apple Health App that allows you to store all of your medical records on your phone. By having all of your medical information at your fingertips, you can work with your doctor to reduce your risk for medical errors.
- Get a second opinion. A good doctor will welcome confirmation of their diagnosis and would not discourage their patient from learning more. You should get a second opinion if you do not feel confident about a diagnosis or course of treatment. Another reason to get a second opinion is if you feel that your concerns are not being heard. In the case of non-emergent, major surgeries, a second opinion could save you from unnecessary medical costs and stress. For instance, if your surgeon recommended fusion, but you are not ready to give up your active lifestyle, it may be time for a second opinion. Use our Find a Doctor tool to find a new surgeon in your area that has experience with the Arthrosurface products.
- Review your medical bills for errors. A 2015 audit by Equifax found that hospital bills totaling more than $10,000 contained an average error of $1,300. Insurers do not normally look at each itemized bill, instead, they normally just work off of the summary bill. So, make sure you review the itemized bill for errors, or hire a professional to do so.
- Know your rights at work. According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), employers with 15 or more employees must make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Some reasonable accommodations that your employers may have to make include duty changes, rest breaks, rearrangement of their workstation, or even the ability to work from home.