Take Action

It's easy to tell yourself, "these issues aren't bothering me much", or, "I'm not having this problem very often", or even "this ache or pain is probably nothing". It's easy to find excuses not to do something about symptoms you might have. However, there are a lot of health conditions that, if they are treated early, could, in some cases, be less serious. Let’s take action!

 

Seeing Your Provider

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I am going to see my provider - what should we discuss?

The best way to have a good visit with any health care professional is to be prepared! This visit might be with your doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a therapist - anyone who helps you with your general health needs is a health care provider. People who prepare for visits are more satisfied with their visits than those who don't. Below are some steps to help you be prepared.

  • Think about things you want to talk about with your provider. Write them down or add them as notes in your phone. Make a list of everything you want to discuss. Some things to consider might be:

Symptoms – Are you having symptoms, like pain or trouble sleeping?

  • How often do you have symptoms?
  • When do the symptoms occur?
  • How long do the symptoms last?
  • Does anything help the symptoms go away?
  • Questions - You might have questions for your provider like these:

What do the symptoms mean?

  • What should I do about the symptoms?
  • Do I have to change my lifestyle or take medication?
  • I found information on the Internet; what do you think?
  • My friend recommended something; is it a good idea?
  • Remember to bring your list with you! Sometimes going to a provider can have a lot of distractions, like filling out forms, or waiting longer than you expect. It's easy to forget what you wanted to talk about. A list will help you remember.
  • Have your health and personal information ready.
  • Make sure you have the names of your medications written down - what they are, how much and how often you take them.
  • Bring your health insurance information with you, even if you think your provider has this already.
  • You may need a photo ID for patient registration.
  • Think about how you will express yourself. Your provider is one of the most appropriate people to guide you in learning how to take care of yourself.
  • Communicate with your provider. Tell her or him about your concerns and doubts.
  • It might be helpful to bring a family member or friend to an appointment to help support you, keep you focused, take notes, and help you with questions you might not remember.
  • Let your provider know if you have preferences about kinds of treatment (medication vs. non-medication).
  • Actively talking with your doctor - asking questions, sharing concerns - will make you feel more in control of decision making about your health.
  • You have the right to know about results of your visit, so ask about how to get test results, or to see your medical records.
  • Manage your appointments. Have a strategy for managing appointments, whether you use the calendar on your phone or a written calendar, to help you remember and keep track. Consider setting an alarm during the day to remind you when your appointments are coming up.

 

 

Your provider and you - making decisions together

On this website, you learned to search for reliable, accurate health information on the Internet, and how to be prepared for a visit with your provider. Let's put it together. When you are more informed and more prepared, you will be able to make better decisions about your health. A great place to make these decisions is with your provider. You and your provider are a team. This is shared decision-making.

Sometimes making these decisions together can take time. It is a process. Your health care provider may want you to stick with your current treatment a little longer to see if it works, or be concerned if you stop taking your medications. You may be worried about side effects of medication, or not want to take medications at all. In discussing symptoms, treatments, and how they fit into your life, both you and your provider will learn about each other. This conversation will help you agree on next steps, and make decisions together.

Shared decision making with your provider benefits YOU.
 

  • The decision you reach together with your provider will meet your needs.
  • The more you learn in discussing options, the better you will understand why the decision makes sense.
  • You can choose a treatment that fits best with your personal goals.
  • When you are involved in the decision about what to do, you are more likely to stick to the plan.

How Does it Work? These are some steps in shared decision making.

Sharing Information. You can educate your provider about your symptoms, complaints, and other health issues.

Asking Questions. Based on your questions and concerns, your provider may give you additional information and perhaps different recommendations. Ask yourself these questions.

  • How do you feel about the recommendations your provider has made?
  • Do you have questions or concerns about treatment?
  • What are the risks?
  • What does it cost? Does insurance cover it?
  • Are you worried about finances, or potential impact on your work or family?
  • What if you decide to do nothing?
  • Is there something you can read or a video you can watch to learn more?

Reaching an Agreement.

  • You and your provider agree on which option is right for you.
  • You both agree on the steps you will take after the appointment.

 

 

 

Understanding Health and Human Subject Reserch

                Many of us take medications or are given other treatments that can help with our conditions. How do we know that these medicines and treatments are safe?  Many of them cannot be used as treatments until they have been subjected to thorough testing.  This testing usually goes through many processes, often beginning with testing on animals (mice, fish, etc.) and finishing with testing on humans.  Many regulations exist to help to protect people that participate in human subject research.  Four of the most important ones are the Nuremburg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki, and the Belmont Report.  You can learn much more about all of these on this Wikipedia page.

                Participating in a research study can be very rewarding as it can make you feel a part of the process of finding new treatments that could help you and others with your condition.  But if you are asked to be in a study, you have no obligation to do so.  Your care should never be dependent on joining a study recommended by your provider.  All research facilities have in place a group called an Institutional Review Board (IRB).  You should be able to find links to this group as well as contact information where you can ask questions or, more importantly, raise concerns.  Plus, websites associated with IRBs often have a lot of additional information about what you might expect if you decide to participate in a study.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_subject_research

 

Your Rights as a Patient

You have important rights as a patient!

As a patient, you have rights regarding your treatment and care. Knowing your rights can make you feel more knowledgeable and better able to make good decisions about your health and treatment.

In the United States, the Affordable Care Act clearly defines some of these rights.  Other countries have similar rights as well:

You have the right to be informed about the care that you will receive. Feel free to ask all the questions you need to about your treatment.

You have the right to know what is being written about you by providers and what is being included in your medical record.

You have the right to make decisions about your care, including refusing treatment.

You have the right to obtain health information in your own language.

You have the right to obtain care regardless of your pre-existing conditions.

You have the right to know when something goes wrong with your care or when there has been a medical error.

You have the right to request your doctor keep your health information private.