Some people have blind faith in their doctors and are loyal to their healthcare professionals to the end. This allegiance to a physician is admirable, but not always necessary or wise. You owe it to yourself to get the best health care possible. As with making any decision, informed healthcare consumers get better results than uninformed patients do.
Determine the need for a second opinion
While advancing technology continues to sharpen the accuracy of diagnostic testing, it is still impossible to correctly diagnose an illness 100 percent of the time, especially on the first try. Many insurance companies require a second opinion to reduce the rate of diagnostic errors. Medicare will pay up to 80 percent for a second, or even a third, opinion when a major surgery or procedure is involved in order to gain a consensus on the diagnosis and best course of treatment. Most family doctors will not be offended if you ask them for a referral. Consider a second opinion whenever you face a serious illness or complex surgical procedure.
Find an alternate doctor
Ask friends and relatives or use the Internet to find a general physician or specialist in your area. Each doctor may have a different opinion about your diagnosis or approach to treatment. One might suggest aggressive treatment plan while another cautions you to take a wait-and-see approach.
Find out if the office hours work into your schedule. Learn how long the waiting list is for an appointment. Before your appointment and while you are in the waiting room, write a list of questions. Check off questions as you ask them and jot down the answers right away to help you recall the information later.
In addition to inquiries related to your medical condition, try to think of practical questions, as well. Ask about instrument maintenance, such as ultrasound repair, and maintenance schedules. Using outdated or broken equipment compromises the quality of care you receive and can certainly affect diagnostic results.
Research procedures and medications
At some point, you will have to choose a doctor and treatment plan. It’s time to investigate the procedures you will undergo and the instruments used for those procedures. Become an authority on your condition and treatment plan. Many major healthcare institutions now post detailed information about diseases and treatment plans online. Some even feature interactive programs where patients can explore various aspects of their conditions at their own pace.
Live an informed lifestyle
In addition to being informed on certain occasion, it’s important to make being informed a way of life. Keep track of your medical history and medications. Get regular checkups and be prepared for medical or laboratory appointments. Maintain a healthy weight, improve your diet and get more exercise. Enhance your health with smart, informed lifestyle choices.
When you are an informed patient, you can feel comfortable going to your trusted family physician or asking for a second opinion. Today’s technology helps patients get an accurate diagnosis, find a qualified specialist and learn everything there is to know about their condition. There is no better time than now to become an informed patient.
Jessica is interested in health and fitness. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors. Catch up with her on Twitter: @jessstark9.