Five Ways Your Patient Advocate Can Help You Become A Smarter Patient
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
To be a smart patient, you can’t be passive – you have to be engaged. In fact, you need to be a first-rate medical detective. Like Sherlock Holmes, smart patients ask intelligent questions and have the instincts (and the courage) to politely challenge things they don’t understand.
However … you might find it difficult to discuss your medical issues with your doctor. You are not alone.
Here are some of the reasons why being proactive is challenging. Plus, five ways your patient advocate can help you overcome these obstacles – and make you a smarter patient.
What’s Holding You Back?
REASON #1 – OVERWHELMED
When you are the patient, you may be too stunned or overwhelmed with the diagnosis or test results you just received. And therefore, you are likely to be distracted and miss the most pertinent information. At this moment in time, you might be unable to ask the right questions about your diagnosis and test results.
REASON #2 – UNCOMFORTABLE
Many patients feel that questioning the advice or recommendations of their doctor means challenging his expertise and possibly his authority. Others are worried about angering or upsetting their doctor. Also, asking too many questions could gain you the reputation of being a difficult patient – or worse yet, have this "label” documented on your personal medical record.
REASON #3 – TIME CONSTRAINTS
Another contributing factor is simply the lack of time during today’s shorter doctor visits. Many people feel self-conscious or worried about how much of the doctor’s time they are taking up. Sometimes, you may not even have enough time to get through all your questions.
In these situations, having the guiding hand of your patient advocate can make all the difference in the world. She can help you overcome these obstacles, which ultimately will be beneficial to your health!
Your private patient advocate serves as your own private detective. She can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit. This only requires a bit of preparation to improve the best outcome. She can speak up when you don’t; she can serve as your translator. She can help you become a smarter patient in these five ways.
Five Ways to Become a Smarter Patient
You can rely on your private patient advocate to be
1) YOUR ORGANIZER
She can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit. This does, however, require a bit of preparation! She might suggest the following activities for you to work on together:
Compile or update your current medications and nutritional supplement list. This will help the doctor make a more accurate diagnosis or assessment of your condition.
Write down a list of questions you want to ask the doctor in the order of importance. You want to make sure you address the most pressing issues first.
Create a checklist of your most current symptoms – when did they start?… and under what circumstances?
2) YOUR INTERPRETER
Getting a diagnosis of a serious illness can be a stressful experience. If your eyes glass over and you “tune out,” your advocate remains “tuned in.”
Translate medical terms and confusing topsy-turvy language so you don’t run up against a “lost-in-translation” moment with your doctor
Listen attentively; provide clear jargon-free explanations regarding diagnoses and results
Gather the right information for you
Ask the questions that need to be asked. Voice concerns to your doctors
3) YOUR COORDINATOR
Schedule medical appointments; accompany you to doctor visits, set up follow-up tests and procedures. Help arrange transportation.
Research treatment options, procedures, doctors, and hospitals.
If your doctor gives you a diagnosis or instructions you don’t understand, you might not speak up. Your patient advocate can ask for clarity …and debrief the doctor or the hospital staff to be sure you understand the plan for care.
4) YOUR QUARTERBACK FOR CARE
Serve as your liaison and representative to make sure all care providers – doctors, hospital staff, caregivers, therapists, or pharmacies – work in tandem.
Ask the "what’s next" questions, such as, "If this test is negative what does it mean? If it’s positive, will more tests be needed?"
5) YOUR COMPLIANCE PARTNER
Ensure that physician recommendations are followed, prescriptions are picked up and taken
Remember your medication regimen and help you follow treatment
Ask questions about your follow-up care
File paperwork or assist with insurance and billing matters
Having an advocate “step in” is something that everyone needs at some time, particularly when difficult decisions have to be made. Even if you feel you have never advocated effectively for yourself, you can learn to be your own best champion.
Your private patient advocate can put you back in charge … you will learn how to become a stronger advocate for yourself … and become a smarter patient.
If you or your loved ones, need help with these activities, please give me a call at 614 848 9687. I would be happy to be your first-rate medical detective!