By ACCORDANT HEALTH SERVICES
Are you a team player or do you go it alone? Being part of a team when managing a chronic condition makes treatment and daily living easier for you and your medical team. Communication and trust are an important part of making sure you are getting the best possible care.
Today, good healthcare requires a team effort. Your healthcare team includes not only your doctors, but also nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and all the other professionals who participate in your care. The members of your healthcare team are experts in their medical specialties. But the only expert on you... is you! You are the most important member of your own healthcare team.
Studies show that people with chronic conditions tend to view their role on the healthcare team in one of four ways. Which of the following statements best describes your point of view?
Here's what the statement you chose might indicate about your attitude toward healthcare:
If you chose A, you have probably assumed a passive role in your healthcare. You defer to the decisions of healthcare professionals and usually don't voice your opinion.
If you selected B, you probably feel powerless over your health and believe that "whatever will be, will be." You are withdrawn from your healthcare team and interact with them only as much as is absolutely necessary.
Did you choose C? You probably take a consumerism approach to healthcare. You are well informed about your condition and about the healthcare system. You may feel weighed down by the responsibilities of managing your condition.
If your choice was D you have probably established a cooperative alliance with your healthcare team. You balance the advice of healthcare experts along with your own experience and knowledge of yourself. As a result, you make confident, informed choices about healthcare.
In case you haven't already guessed, the preferred answer is D! This answer represents a person who has embraced the patient's unique and vital role on the healthcare team. If D wasn't your answer, here are some tips that may help you forge a better partnership with your healthcare team.
Become knowledgeable about your condition.
The more you know about your condition, the better equipped you are to work with your healthcare team. As the patient member of the team, you have a responsibility to educate yourself about your condition. Your knowledge will enable you to ask better questions and to make better decisions about your care. If you don't know where to start, ask a librarian to help you do a computer search of some medical libraries.
Study your medical records.
Request a copy of your medical records. (You may be charged for this, so if your records are very large, you may want to only request summaries.) Studying your records will help educate you about your condition. Start a file at home for your records. You can use this file to store notes from your doctor visits, magazine articles about the disease, and other information. This is a positive step toward becoming more active in managing your condition.
There are at least two good reasons for asking questions. (1) The answers you receive will build up your knowledge about your medical condition. (2) Asking questions demonstrates that you want to actively participate in your care and that you respect professionals' opinions. This strengthens the patient-team partnership.
Share your concerns.
Are you worried about the costs of your treatments or medicines? Tell your doctor and pharmacist. There may be other alternatives.
Do you need more information? Ask about brochures, videos, books or Web sites. Talk with a nurse or health educator. You may also want to schedule an appointment just to talk with your doctor.
Are the treatments or medicines your doctor is recommending unacceptable or impractical for you? If there's a chance you won't comply with the regimen your doctor is suggesting, be honest about it. Work together to find a solution that is acceptable to both of you.
The point is, if you have concerns of any kind you must voice them. Your feelings and your point of view are critical to the mission you and your healthcare team want to accomplish. After all, you're the most important member of the team!
Quackwatch. Doctor-Patient Communication Tips. http://www.quackwatch.org/02ConsumerProtection/commtips.html
United Health Foundation. Take charge of your care. http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/charge.html
Last Modified Date: September 10, 2009 © Accordant Health Services, a CVS/Caremark company. All rights reserved.
This article has been reviewed for accuracy by a member of the Accordant Health Services Medical Advisory Team.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions./span>