10 Ways to be a Better Patient
Studies have shown that only 6 percent of doctors are happy with their profession. A lot of their issues can be attributed to health insurance red tape, but it is also important to note that patients have a big impact on their daily morale. Fortunately, people who take the time to become better patients can improve their own health, get better results from each appointment and help their physician have a more satisfactory job experience.
1. Make a List of Symptoms/Complaints
The average appointment lasts a maximum of 15 minutes, so it may not be possible for your doctor to answer an extensive list of questions. However, going into the office without having an organized list of symptoms, complaints and questions will make the entire process even less efficient. Sadly, this means that your odds of getting the right diagnosis and any applicable medication will plummet. To avoid this, write everything down in advance so that you are prepared to quickly and accurately report your issues.
2. Research Procedures to Put Yourself at Ease
Medical procedures such as MRI, EMG and Nerve Conduction tests may seem intimidating, especially if you are not aware of how they work. To help relieve this tension, you can ask your physician for some printed materials regarding the procedure at hand. It is also easy to find additional details online about everything from how a TeleEMG machine works to what you can expect from a colonoscopy.
Ultimately, the goal is to obtain enough education to set your mind at ease so that you are not extremely nervous when your appointment begins.
3. Be Accountable for Your Healthcare Needs
Your primary care physician and any specialists you visit are all part of your healthcare team, but you are the most integral piece. After all, your doctor cannot treat issues that you fail to tell him or her about, and they also cannot force you to do vital things such as take your medication as prescribed. Instead of waiting for a physician to fix something that has gone horribly wrong, you should become accountable for your healthcare needs in order to prevent most issues in the first place.
4. Answer Every Question Truthfully
At least 23 percent of patients lie to their doctor, and this is a major issue that can prevent you from getting the care that you need. Surveys have shown that people misrepresent the facts because they are afraid of being judged. However, if your physician makes you feel judged, it is better to find a new doctor than to continue lying. Keep in mind that each question you answer truthfully will get you closer to receiving the information you need to improve your health.
5. Research Your Condition and Help Point Your Doctor in the Right Direction
Some doctors may resist the idea that their patients have been able to find answers by looking up their symptoms online, but it is still wise to research your condition. After all, a primary care physician cannot possibly know everything, and the information you provide may make a major difference in your healthcare. This is especially true for lesser known conditions or medical issues that are commonly misdiagnosed as something else such as female autism.
6. Exercise and Eat a Balanced Diet to Remove Minor Health Complaints
Studies have shown that physical inactivity is responsible for almost 17 percent of all deaths, and an unhealthy diet can lead to a long list of health complications, including type 2 diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Stress is also known to cause at least 60 percent of all doctor visits, but this is something that can be reduced by walking for a mere 30 minutes a day and eating a balanced diet. Taking these two steps is one of the best ways to prevent major health issues and to eliminate minor existing problems.
7. Take Your Doctor’s Time Seriously
Most patients are unhappy with the amount of time they wait for their appointment to begin, but this is not a one-sided issue. In fact, many physicians have reported that patients who come late are the major reason that their entire schedule gets off track. Therefore, it is always best to arrive at least 5 minutes before your appointment time, and you should get there 15 minutes early if you have to fill out new patient paperwork. If everyone did this, we would all have more timely start times, and we would also have more time to ask questions.
8. Follow Through on Your Doctor’s Advice
Again, your physician cannot force you to take medication or to follow their advice. However, if you do not follow through on the tips that they provide, you will merely further derail your health. If a doctor says something that seems very odd or wrong to you, make sure to ask questions or to seek a second opinion. Otherwise, follow their advice so that you can begin to feel better.
9. Keep a Health Journal
A personal health journal, which is also referred to as a health diary, is a great way to track everything that has a positive or negative impact on your body. For example, writing down what you eat and how you feel 30 to 60 minutes later will make it much easier to identify a food sensitivity.
Additionally, keeping a journal will help you stay on track with things that make your physical and mental health improve, including exercising. As an added bonus, your doctor will be able to get a better understanding of your health issues if you track everything diligently.
10. Incorporate Any Applicable Complementary Alternative Medicine Therapies
Many physicians have begun prescribing daily walks and even adult coloring to their patients, and it is also becoming increasingly common for them to recommend a complementary alternative medicine (CAM) such as massage therapy.
Extensive medical studies have found that massage can relieve headaches, depression, chronic pain and the symptoms of PTSD. Acupuncture is another option that might be suggested for pain management and headaches. Combining a CAM therapy with regular medical care is often the best way to deal with chronic conditions.
Other ways that you can become a better patient include treating your doctor with respect and getting enough sleep every night. After all, insomnia can be worse for you than a high-fat diet, so make sure that you take steps to improve your sleep quality. Following all of these tips can improve your health and give you a better patient-doctor relationship.
Featured photo credit: Wesley Wilson via pexels.com