While many people traditionally rely on their care provider to improve their health, the biggest factor affecting a person’s well-being is themselves. Dr. Kristen Marshall explains what taking charge of your health really means.
Taking care of yourself goes beyond — and starts before — you step into your care provider’s office. We asked Kristen Marshall, MD, of Renown Health how to actively participate in our own health and wellness.
What does it mean to take charge of your health?
It starts by being proactive. When you play an active role in your healthcare, you can improve the quality of the care you and your family receive.
- Start learning about any issues you and your family may have, and make sure you are staying on top of them. Your family’s health history is an important part of your personal health.
- See a care provider regularly for checkups. Regular checkups can help find problems early, when they may be easier to treat. Checkups also help you stay current on immunizations.
- Make sure you are prepared for your appointments by writing down any questions you have or by bringing in any needed paperwork.
- Have a two-way conversation with your care provider and ask questions.
- Finally, follow-up after your appointment if you have questions or side effects from medicine or you need to schedule follow-up appointments for tests or lab work.
What kind of research is helpful before an appointment?
We know that many people are using the internet to learn about their health. In fact, according to Pew research, more than 70 percent of Americans search for health information online. But the vast amount of health information found on the internet can be difficult to sift through to separate valuable resources from misleading or false information.
As long as you are using legitimate sites as your resources for information, researching health information can benefit both you and your care provider by making you partners in care. Some tips on research for a medical appointment include:
- Remember where you are getting the information. One solution is to print things out or refer to specific links with your care provider so you can look up the information together.
- Look for advice from experts (psychologists, physicians, researchers). Ask your care provider what sites they trust the most.
- Look for sites affiliated with academic medical centers or healthcare institutions.
- Discuss any findings or concerns with your care provider.
Should patients get a second opinion?
When you’re facing a new medical diagnosis, it’s common to feel confused about what decisions need to be made. Remember that very few decisions have to be made on the spot. You can, and should, think about them. Second opinions are fairly routine and they bring peace of mind and encourage two-way communication. They allow the patient to become a more educated healthcare consumer as they gain more knowledge of a condition and its treatment options. And if the diagnosis is something that significantly impacts your life, it’s worth investing the time to ensure you’re making the best choice for your health.
Want to search for a provider online? Visit renown.org/find/physician.