How can you get the best medical care possible? Patients want to get better. Doctors and PAs want their patients’ health to improve. These are simple, straightforward goals. The complicated part is how to make it happen.
Of course, your provider's knowledge and experience plays a huge role in your care and health outcome. However, many patients don’t realize the importance of patient engagement. And even when patients know the importance of patient engagement, many do not know how to properly engage in their care.
Importantly, you cannot sit back and leave the management of your care to someone else – even your health care provider. You must be the captain of your ship. Read below to learn the what, why and how of patient engagement to help you get the best medical care possible.
WHAT is patient engagement?
Although the definition of patient engagement can differ depending on who you ask, at Stillwater Primary Care, we consider patient engagement to be a measure of how able and willing a patient is to actively engage in their health and their healthcare.
WHY is patient engagement so important?
A comprehensive survey by AARP found that patients who are less engaged in their care are more likely to:
have a serious health condition for which they do not receive needed medical attention
experience a medical error
not follow the advice of their medical providers
have poorer outcomes
Similarly, research has shown that effective communication between the provider and the patient is linked to:
more appropriate medical decisions
better health outcomes
higher patient satisfaction
Researchers Vincent and Coulter eloquently summarize the importance of patients being engaged in their care:
“Patients have a key role to play in helping to reach an accurate diagnosis, in deciding about appropriate treatment, in choosing an experienced and safe provider, in ensuring that treatment is appropriately administered, monitored and adhered to, and in identifying adverse events and taking appropriate action.”
HOW can you get the best medical care possible?
Everything required of you as you navigate the medical world is overwhelming. There are so many new, often stressful, things to do, including learning new terminology, making treatment decisions, and managing complicated medication regimens.
Follow these recommendations to engage in your care and improve your chances for the best outcome possible:
Prepare for appointments! Write down your “story” and your questions before you come for each visit. Make sure you relate all of this to your Primary Care Provider.
Take careful notes. Use a notebook to keep track of signs, symptoms and questions at home, and to record all important information at appointments.
Don’t be afraid to ask your provider to repeat or rephrase something if you don’t understand. Don’t give up until you feel comfortable in your knowledge.
If something doesn’t seem right – speak up! Be the polite, squeaky wheel. We are glad to answer questions.
Pay close attention to medication management – be sure to understand why, how and when to take each medication.
Feel free to request copies of labs to review and discuss with family members.
- The Stillwater Primary Care Team