At EmpowHER, we share tips and references to women to be better health advocates. Here are my five tips for dealing more effectively with your own healthcare.
Tip No. 1 – If you’re not happy with your doctor, fire him or her. Ask your girlfriends, family and other doctors for recommendations because “good” doctors know the other “good” doctors. They are your best resource. Don’t forget to check the doctor’s credentials and research possible violations.
Tip No. 2 – Stop lying. Did you know that studies suggest 70 percent of patients lie to their doctors? For example, we do not mention that we take aspirin, that we are not taking our medication consistently or at all. We take health supplements and vitamins but don’t consider them medications. It is important to mention because some vitamins and supplements can interfere with medications or make hormone replacement therapy less effective. Make a list of all the things you take and bring it with you to all your medical appointments.
Tip No. 3 – Be prepared. First, women need to do their own research. For example, understand treatments and alternatives for a potential diagnosis. Second, send a list of questions to your doctor ahead of your visit. It is estimated that patients are interrupted 18 seconds into their appointments. Few patients can say everything they want to in that time, so be prepared.
Tip No. 4 – Take charge of you. The World Health Organization says 40 percent of women are currently battling one of the Big 6 health conditions: cancer, heart disease, hormone disorders, diabetes, bone and joint conditions, and mental health issues. Remember, if you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else.
Tip No. 5 – Find a health advocate. Identify a trusted friend or patient advocate, not a family member, that can go with you to appointments. This person needs to listen well, speak up and not be afraid to ask questions of specialists. The last thing you are able to do when you are sick is advocate on your behalf. Put your advocate in your Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney and let them know ahead of time that they are in charge.
Originally published in NAFE’s (National Association of Female Executives) newsletter.