Taking Leadership in Your Healthcare

How do I become a leader in my own healthcare?
Are there resources that will allow me to take leadership in my own healthcare?
Asking for help…

How do I become a leader in my own healthcare?

As much as doctors, nurses, and medical staff desire to help care for you, it is also up to you to ensure that you get the help you actually need. As a leader in your own healthcare, it is crucial to know what is and is not appropriate for your own care. You know you best, but you can also ask questions. 

Know that you are allowed to talk with your healthcare professional alone or with someone you chose. Sometimes you may want to be alone and sometimes you may want an advocate. It is your decision. Bring a list of questions you want answered and take notes when the health professional answers them. There are even apps to help you do this. You just need to find what works best for you.

When you fill out paperwork to see a new healthcare professional, it will ask with whom they are allowed to share your medical information. This is your decision. You can decide if they can talk to someone else you trust or just you, yourself. Find out the doctor’s confidentiality policy, and be honest about how you want your information shared or not.

Understanding consent in your care also allows you to better speak up when necessary. Consent extends beyond strangers to even those who provide care for you. Know that you do not have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable and you are allowed to speak up about it. If a professional (e.g. teacher, in-home-care assistant, doctor, physical therapist, etc.) caring for you does not listen to you, you are allowed to tell someone else. Know who you can tell if you are uncomfortable with a situation. 

Have a healthy conversation with the person you trust and problem solve what can be done. Take your ideas back to the professional that made you uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable talking with that professional by yourself, take a person you trust with you. Being a self-advocate does not mean you have to do everything on your own.

Are there resources that will allow me to take leadership in my own healthcare?

There are many different kinds of resources that can assist you in taking leadership in your own healthcare. You need to find the tools that work the best for you and your needs.

Here are some tips on what to look for:

  • Find out if your healthcare provider has a patient portal that provides some or all of these options:
    • Access to your private medical records
    • The ability to send/receive private/confidential messages/questions to your doctor. Sometimes doctor’s offices provide this at no cost to you
    • The ability to make appointments online 
  • Find out if your doctor’s office offers virtual visits
    • This allows you to have a doctor’s appointment from the comfort of your own home
    • More and more insurances are beginning to cover this service
  • If you are not able to figure out the automated phone service, ask to speak to a person

Here are some low tech tools:

  • Medication divider: this is a case that can hold your daily medications to help you be more independent. You can purchase a medication divider to fit your specific needs, whether morning/night, daily, or weekly
    • This will help you know if you have taken your medications or not
  • In your calendar, whether a physical or virtual one, write down when:
    • Your medications need to be refilled and picked up from the pharmacy
    • Your medical supplies need to be refilled and when they should be delivered to your home
    • You are to schedule an appointment
    • You have a doctor appointment
    • You have any other appointments
    • When/who will assist you at an appointment, if needed

Here are some high tech tools:

  • Many smartphones have health apps to track and store medical data including emergency contacts. Here are a few of the apps available to make personal healthcare easier:
    • Abridge: An app that records your doctor appointments and translates a doctor’s language into simple words you can understand
    • Medisafe: Log your medication time and the app reminds you when you need to take your medications
    • GoodRx: This app lists the pharmacies that sell the medication you need and how much it costs so you are able to purchase the medication you need at the best cost possible. It sometimes provides coupons
    • FitBit: This free app works with a FitBit watch and allows you to track your health and fitness data

Asking for help…

Asking for help is always okay, especially if the topic or situation becomes overwhelming.

Being a good leader not only means you know your strengths but your weaknesses as well. Knowing when and to whom to ask for help will help you grow as a leader in your own healthcare. 

If you are not sure who to ask for help, contact the F2FHIC office. They may be able to help you directly or direct you to the person you may need to talk with.