1. Select the right doctor and know what you deserve as a patient:
- Understand the exact type of doctor who’s appropriate for your needs and find out which doctors and medical centers are leaders in that field.
- For primary care doctors, it’s important to find a doctor who specializes in working with patients rather than performing research and academic work. Gender can also play a role in the type of primary care doctor you select.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about what you don’t understand. Doctors should listen to your concerns, make you feel comfortable, be familiar with recent health and medical information, and know when annual exams and tests are needed.
- Consider working with an advisor who can explain test results and treatment options with you when you don’t feel like your doctor can.
2. Know exactly what your insurance does and does not cover:
- Know before you go. Don’t be caught off guard by unexpected charges which can add stress to already tense healthcare situations.
- Staff at your doctor’s office or hospital do not know your specific coverage. It is better to talk to your HR benefits manager and/or insurance company representative.
- A good health advisor can also help you understand what is and is not covered by your plan.
3. Know your local Emergency Room and know when to go to Urgent Care:
- Some ERs have advanced pediatric capabilities, some specialize in geriatrics, strokes, and/or burns. Before an emergency, know what your local ER specializes in and if it isn’t relevant to you, find another.
- While going to the ER is sometimes necessary, Urgent Care can handle many common medical issues much more quickly.
- Have a healthcare professional you can contact to help decide where to go. Read our previous article on how to choose between the two here.
4. Know how to get good second opinions, find specialists, and evaluate treatments:
- Remember, the internet isn’t a second opinion. Focus on quality, not quantity since too many opinions can be confusing. Ensure that you have a plan and a pathway to a doctor or network of doctors that you trust and can go to for second opinions.
- The right specialist might be in a different hospital or even state, and you should know how to find the field leader for your specific issue.
- Some treatments have side effects that can seriously impact your quality of life. Have an advisor or doctor who will consider your options and talk through the potential effects of each one. Working through your options ensures that your quality of life will stay as high as possible during treatment.