medicine, primary care

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Patients

This is something that I give out to all new patients.  I wrote it because I feel that while I need to be a good doctor, my patients also have to do their job.  A physician-patient relationship is like any other relationship- you only get what you give.  One-sided relationships are usually doomed to failure, so I like my patients to be active, empowered participants in their healthcare.

 Seven Habits of the Informed Patient
Get the Most from Your Health Care!
1. Be Early For Your Appointment.
§  You may have paperwork to fill out, or phone calls may need to be made to your insurance company. 
§  You need to have your blood pressure and vital signs taken.  By arriving early to your appointment, you ensure that you get to spend as much time with your doctor as possible.
2.  Be Organized (Part 1).
§  Make a list of what you want to discuss with your doctor.  Prioritize it so that you cover the most important items first.  Check off your items as you cover them.  Don’t rely on your memory!
3.  Be Organized (Part 2).
§  Make a binder or folder of your health history. 
§  Get copies of lab work or tests from other doctors. 
This will help your primary doctor stay up to date on what is going on with your health.  This will also help you keep track of appointments and dates (like when your next physical should be).
4.  Know Your Medications
§  Bring a list of all of your medications, dosages and how often you take them to EVERY visit.  This is especially important if you receive medications from more than one doctor.
5.  Know Your Insurance Plan
§  Be familiar with what your insurance plan covers.  Call them if you have any questions.
§  Get a copy of your insurance plan’s Formulary (list of covered medications).  Bring it to all appointments.  This will help your doctor to make the best medication choices for you.
Remember, your doctor deals with dozens of insurance plans.  He can’t be expected to know exactly what your particular plan covers!
6.  Do Your Homework.
§  If your doctor orders tests, make sure you do them!  There was a reason for ordering it.  If you are not sure of that reason, ask.
Don’t assume that no news is good news.  If you do not hear from your doctor within 2 weeks of getting a test or labs done, call the office for the results. 
7.  Take Charge!
Your doctor will work with you to keep you as healthy as possible, but ultimately you are in charge of your health.  Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke and take your prescribed medications.

1 thought on “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Patients”

  1. This is new or not as old as me. I do most of these things anyway. Formularies change each year and many patients don't understand the nuances of their insurance plans. Then their are the riders and many people just don't bother appealing and insurances count on that. People don't know how easy it is to get copies of lab work ahead of time. If it is done at lab corp all you have to do is wait a few days and go over and sign something requesting lab results.


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