A recent article from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine stated that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. This is mostly due to “systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, and the absence or underuse of safety nets”.
A health advisor can help you navigate complex medical decisions and ensure you receive high- quality, coordinated care. Here are some tips you can use to find the best healthcare for you:
1. Select the right doctor and know what you deserve as a patient:
- Understand the type of doctor that is appropriate for your needs, and locate the best providers in that field.
- For primary care doctors: find a provider who focuses on their patients’ needs, rather than their research and academic work.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doctors should always listen to your concerns, make you feel comfortable, and clarify any medical issues.
- Consider working with a health advisor who can explain medical results or treatment options, if you feel that your doctor cannot do so.
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 help you understand which services are covered or not covered, under your current plan.
3. Know when to go to your local Emergency Room vs Urgent Care:
- Some ERs specialize in specific fields or medical services: geriatrics, strokes, burns, etc. Know what your local ER specializes in, and find another location if needed, before an emergency occurs.
- While the ER is necessary for emergencies, Urgent Care can handle many common medical issues much more quickly. Read more here, in our previous article.
4. Know where to find high-quality second opinions, specialists, and treatments:
- Try to not use the internet as a second opinion. Ensure that you have a plan for finding a second opinion, through a specific doctor or network of providers that you trust.
- Take time to find a quality specialist, because the right one may be in a different hospital or location, and require research.
- Have an advisor or doctor who will help you consider your treatment options, and their potential effects. Working through your options before making a decision will ensure better quality of life.
5. Understand the important information:
- Read patient discharge information or ask your provider to review the pertinent information with you. There is a lot of routine information on patient discharge documents that is not custom to you, but other information can be useful.
6. Don’t assume providers talk to each other:
- Providers often try to discuss care with others on the team and the electronic medical record helps facilitate communication, but it’s always good to ask doctors to talk to each other. We call this a warm handoff.
7. Stay up to date:
- Maintain a current list of your medications in your wallet or on your phone just in case of an emergency and you are not able to verbally tell your doctors.
8. Ask questions about interactions:
- Ask your pharmacist when you are prescribed a new medication or supplement to be sure that it will not interfere or have an adverse interaction with your current medications.
9. Make changes:
- Update your health record with recent procedures, diagnoses, medications, allergies, surgeries, family medical history, etc