Being your own health advocate helps ensure you receive the quality healthcare you deserve. Feeling empowered to speak up with any questions, needs, concerns, or preferences you may have can help you and your doctor make medical decisions together as a team. Patients who ask questions and understand the answers they receive tend to get timely and more accurate diagnoses.
Here are tips to use before, during, and after your medical appointment to make sure you receive the best possible care:
- Find a doctor who meets your needs and preferences. Ask a friend or family member to recommend a doctor they trust or review online doctor profiles to locate a physician.
- Bring questions to your doctor visits and take notes. Spend time looking up your symptoms before your visit and try to get familiar with the topics you want to discuss. Create a list of questions. Contact your doctor if you have new medical questions or concerns between visits.
- Advocate for yourself or request support. Open and honest conversations are the key to a good relationship with your doctor. If you feel like you’re not being heard, you can reach out to another doctor or request that a family member or patient advocate join you in the exam room for support.
- Speak up. Let your doctor know if you ever feel confused or uncomfortable. Share your concerns and ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.
- Follow-up after your appointment. Always follow your doctor’s instructions. Call them if your symptoms get worse or if you have problems understanding the instructions you received.
For tools, resources, and more information to help better advocate for your health, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s website.