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Written by Gurminder for Doctify

Research shows very few patients have been proactive about their healthcare up until recently. This may be due to the constant fear of patients being informed of potential health problems or long-term illnesses.

However patients are now taking control of their health and prefer to be more proactive. When it comes to long-term illnesses it’s always a difficult journey but the more involved you are, the better choices you can make. You have the choice of being more involved and can choose the best treatment for you. Doctify encourage a long- lasting partnership between patient and specialist. This ensures you feel confident in the healthcare you receive and the health specialist can have a clear understanding of the care required. But as a patient, you can help keep these to a minimum by being actively involved at every step.

That means checking your diagnosis, chasing results and referrals, choosing the treatment you think is best for you and the team you believe is best placed to deliver it. Also finding out about your illness, treatment, rights and standards, and checking they are followed, and doing all you can to stick to the plan and recover.

Keep your medical records handy

We understand it is difficult to book an appointment to see the same health specialist and therefore end up persistently repeating your symptoms and medical history. It is useful to keep a copy of your own medical records, for your own reference and you can present this to the health specialist you choose. Retaining a copy of your medical records with key information like current problems, medical history, investigations, drugs, allergies and copies of letters. This will assist your specialist to build a better understanding of the healthcare you require.

Don’t be shy to ask awkward questions

Many patients avoid visiting a health specialist because of the nature of their illness. They may feel embarrassed, unsure and not comfortable discussing their illness with a health specialist. These are the key questions to ask any doctor treating you:

  • Are you a specialist for this particular condition?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option for me?

For any treatment, it is always handy to get the name of your health specialist or nurse who is ultimately accountable for your care, agrees with your goals and is the person you can go to for your serious concerns. Access to a specialist nurse can make a huge difference to the quality of your care as they give you knowledge, skills, confidence, courage, kindness and laughter.

Talk to the right health specialist

A chaotic medical environment can leave patients feeling anxious, stressed and uncomfortable however talking to the right doctor may help to resolves this. When searching via Doctify for health specialists, patients can feel reassured that they are in control and will receive the right care: Filtering by specialty, insurance and location enables you to find the right health specialist for your needs. Also we advise patients to spend time getting to know the standard of care they should expect from their specialist. For example, you should have a care plan you have agreed to and understood, with clear instructions as to what to do if your illness flares up. When you have more knowledge on you medical illness it becomes easier to ask for help when required.

Make sure the treatment is right for you

For every illness, you will be given more than one option. You may find that sharing the decision; understand the risk and benefits of the treatment and agreeing with the best option for you. Health decisions do not need to be rushed, consider how a treatment could benefit you and find out more about what would happen if you chose not to take the treatment.

Another useful tip is to record you consultation, as it may help to listen back away from the stress of the medical setting. Sometimes you may find it easier to take a friend/family member or just make notes, this all helps to keep for your own reference.

Medication safety tips

A few simple steps you can take to eliminate medication errors:

  • Try to use the same pharmacy to collect your prescriptions to ensure consistency
  • Keep your doctor updated on all the medication you take, including over the counter, supplements and herbal medication
  • Make a note of when your medicine should be taken, before/after food or at a specific time of day.
  • Be clear on the side effects, both routine and serious. Ask your pharmacist or health specialist what serious side effects to look out for.
  • Never assume you know the dose without checking. Medications can vary in strength by brand or when labelled for different age or usage, so always check labelled dosage – even with a familiar medicine.

Listen to other patients’ experience

Reading about other patients’ experiences helps gain a better understanding of which specialist to select – that’s why Doctify provides doctors ratings and reviews, from patients, for patients! As a patient, you can also share your experience by writing reviews and provide ratings for overall experience, bedside manners and waiting time.

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