6 Ways to Be Your Own Advocate in the Doctor’s Office (Part I)

woman speaking with doctor in doctor's office

A visit to your doctor’s office can produce a wide range of emotions, such as dread, anxiety, fear, or even embarrassment. Approach your next doctor’s appointment a little differently by thinking of yourself as an advocate for your own healthcare.

Do Your Research

The first step in advocating for your own healthcare is research! If you’re looking for a doctor, research doctors online, and read reviews about each office. Don’t overlook this important step! Read the reviews for each office to understand the experiences of other patients who have chosen a particular doctor. Consider what others have to say about the doctor or the office when making your decision. Research the types of treatment available to you so that you’re able to make an informed decision. If you’ve already chosen a particular doctor, think about your symptoms or the purpose of your visit. Your doctor is a professional, but the amount of information available on the Internet means that you can be well-informed before you schedule an appointment with your doctor. Bring information on symptoms you have, or treatments you’re interested in receiving, so that your doctor can review the best options with you. In short: Take an active role in partnering with your doctor to make decisions about your own medical treatment.

Request Your Medical Records

As a part of educating yourself on your own health, request your own medical records, and learn what is in your medical files. Not only does this help you educate yourself on your medical needs, it also helps you quickly provide information to your providers, who may or may not collaborate with one another to provide the best care for you. Deciphering medical information is not always easy, so click here to learn how to read your own medical file.

Keep a Log

Whether you are managing your weight, blood pressure, sugar levels, mood, sleep, or something else entirely, keeping a log between doctor’s visits can be a valuable tool when making treatment decisions. On the spot, you may not always remember things accurately, or you might over- or under-report information based on how you’re feeling on a particular day, or you might doubt yourself when asked follow-up questions. Arming yourself with a list of blood pressure readings or the hours you’re sleeping at night, provides concrete information to support your concerns, and gives you a way to track any healthcare changes that might occur. 

Write Your Questions Down

Along with doing the research, write down questions that you have as you think of them. Keep a running note on your cell phone so you can add to it whenever something comes to mind. Keeping a note in your phone means that you’re less likely to forget to bring it with you to your next doctor’s appointment!

Arrive Early

Many medical offices won’t see you if you arrive late for your appointment. Even if you are seen, you or your doctor may feel rushed, and you may not be able to discuss everything you want to talk about. If you’re serious about your health, and you’ve put in the work to prepare for the visit to your doctor, leave a few minutes early to make sure you get to the office on time. You won’t regret it.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Hopefully, your doctor is thrilled by the information that you’ve collected, and the information that you’ve brought in, and partners with you to address your healthcare concerns. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Prepare what you would like to say in the event you feel as though you need to say more. Start small, like telling your doctor you don’t feel like your questions were answered, or that your concerns were fully addressed. In the event you’re still not satisfied, would you like to schedule an immediate follow-up appointment? Would you rather speak with a physician’s assistant or a nurse, who may have more time to spend with you? Would you like to request a referral to a specialist, or a referral to another medical professional for a second opinion? 

Ultimately, you are your biggest advocate when it comes to your health. Stay informed! For more information on healthcare topics that can help you become the best advocate you can possibly be for your own health, or the health of your family and friends, visit The Avidity Medical Design Blog.

doctor updating medical records in computer

Do You Know How To Read Your Medical Records? 4 Ways To Learn How

Most of us understand the importance of good healthcare, but few people actually know what is in their medical records. Understanding what is in your medical records is important because some of your information may be inaccurate or incomplete. Reading and understanding your medical records is not only important in terms of your health, but it is a skill you also need to have if you are pursuing a career in healthcare.

If you want to be able to read and interpret your own medical records, here are some tips on how to do this:

1. Learn the Fundamentals of Medical Records

Know the key pieces of information in your medical records such as your medical history, treatment history, and medication history. You should also learn how the information is entered, and how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) pertains to your medical records.

2. Learn How to Access Your Medical Records

Under HIPAA law, you have the right to access your medical records. You should be able to access your medical records whether they are stored in electronic or paper form. Your records include your doctors’ notes and the results of laboratory tests, x-rays, physical examinations, and much more information pertaining to your health as well as your family’s health.

3. Learn How to Correct Any Errors That You Find

Determine exactly what the error is, and whether it needs to be corrected. Not all errors need to be corrected since they will have no effect on your care. For example, you may not need to correct some typos. Once you have determined that an inaccuracy or omission must be corrected, you must take the necessary steps to get the error corrected.

4. Take a Course on How to Read Your Medical Records

The course entitled How to Read Your Own Medical Records (Learn What is in YOUR Medical Files!) from Avidity Medical Design Academy, can help you learn how to read your medical records, and correct any errors that you find in your medical records. In addition to the course content, you also get free bonuses, including additional resources that allow you to continue learning after you finish the course.

Remember that knowing how to read your medical records can help you understand your personal health and also help you succeed in your career, if you are thinking about becoming a healthcare professional. 

Why It’s Important To Protect Your Medical Identity

medical records on shelf

Identity theft is something we all need to be aware of. Often, identity theft occurs when someone steals our social security number or gains access to our credit card and bank account information. By the time you realize that someone has stolen your identity, you could be hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt and have no knowledge of when it began. What is even worse, you can end up being unable to take out a personal loan until it is cleared up, which can take years. You also run the risk of having your medical records sold on the black web, and then being used against you.

The Threat of Medical Record Fraud

Your medical record contains a lot of information. Most medical records contain not only your overall health information, but what medications you are on, your social security number, family member names, your address and phone number, and much more. Your health insurance provider will also be listed, along with your policy number. With all this information consolidated in one area; thieves will be able to learn even more about you. This information is harder to “cancel” than a credit card. You can’t simply change a number and keep thieves from accessing your medical information. It can take years for you to realize there is a problem.

What Can Be Done With Your Medical Records?

Your medical records contain your past medical history, a list of your medications, your lab and x-ray results, as well as much more information pertaining to your medical treatment. Your medical records contain everything about you. You may think that a thief cannot use your social security number without raising red flags, and that knowing your healthcare provider or insurance information is not going to do them much good either. This is how identity thieves hope you will continue to think about it. The truth is, a thief can do a lot of things with your medical records. Some people might use your medical information to get prescription pain medications to satisfy their opioid addiction. Then, when the investigation starts, it leads back to you. You may be denied pain medication because your medical records may show that you have an addiction.

Protect Yourself From Medical Identity Fraud

Medical record identity theft is becoming more common. Protecting your medical identity is just as important as protecting your credit card information.

Do you know how to read your medical records and make sense of them? If not, consider taking our course entitled, “ How to Protect Your Own Medical Identity (in 8 EASY Steps!) ” This course is the ideal solution to protect yourself and to keep from becoming the next victim of medical identity theft.