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Advocating for Your Own Health: Tips for the Best Medical Care

Being your own health advocate isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial for a number of reasons. Check out these tips to learn how to practice self-advocacy in any healthcare setting.

Woman doctor and Male patient in a health care setting.
Image via Pexels

As much as we’d love to trust our healthcare providers, it’s also necessary to vouch for ourselves to ensure we receive the medical care we and our children deserve. Our needs matter just as much as anyone else’s — and practicing self-advocacy gives us the confidence to speak up for ourselves and make well-informed decisions regarding our medical care whether we’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis or routine doctor appointment.

Being your own health advocate isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial for a number of reasons. Check out these tips to learn how to practice self-advocacy in any healthcare setting.

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Find the Right Medical Provider

If you, like many other patients, wait to find a doctor until you need to get something checked out, choosing the right medical provider is the first thing you should do when learning to advocate for your own health.

Take the time to find a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with — someone you’re not afraid to question when you don’t understand or agree with something he or she says. Look for a doctor who’s in-network with your insurance plan, located somewhere that’s convenient for you, and rated positively by other patients. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask friends, coworkers, or other loved ones for healthcare referrals and recommendations.

Organize Your Medical Reports, Images, Videos, and Labs

Online patient portals make it easier than ever to access your medical reports and records, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build your own personal medical record — especially if you have a chronic illness that needs to be tracked or you tend to seek care outside of your insurance network. These files can be downloaded from your patient portal and stored on your computer, making them easy to access, share, or print at any time.

To keep your medical records organized on your computer, it’s best to combine each individual image, report, and lab result into one downloadable file. If you’re wondering how to merge PDF files, you can utilize a free online PDF merger. The important thing is that the information is easy to access and can be shared with your loved ones and other medical providers.

Make a Plan for Long-Term Care

Whether you have a chronic medical condition that’s progressing or you’re having trouble performing daily activities, making a plan for long-term care is another big part of being your own health advocate. This could mean looking into home health care, homemaker services, senior companion services, or senior living (such as assisted living or skilled nursing facilities). The first three options are best for those who can remain at home, while the latter two are ideal for those who require around-the-clock medical care in a community setting.

If assisted living or skilled nursing care could be a part of your long-term medical needs, start by researching facilities and reading online reviews. Be sure to take into consideration things like payment options, cost, location, and facility reports. You can typically request more information, schedule a tour of each facility, and make a list of questions to ask each care community before choosing a long-term care facility.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions

It’s important to listen to your medical practitioner’s recommendations, but as your own health advocate, you should also ask questions to ensure you have a complete understanding of what your doctor is telling you to do. Be sure to ask your doctor for additional information about your diagnosis and treatment options, and don’t be afraid to speak up if something doesn’t make sense or sound right. After all, nobody can advocate for your health as you can!

Be Your Own Health Advocate

While self-advocacy doesn’t come easily to everyone, these tips will help you to start taking control of your healthcare without overwhelming yourself in the process. From making a plan for long-term care to combining your medical records into one file, becoming your own health advocate will help to ensure that you’re getting the medical care you deserve — each and every time you visit your doctor.

Article by Jennifer Scott