To be an active healthcare team member, you must start with being organized. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Be aware of who’s who. In your doctor’s office, ask to meet the office manager. When you meet them, ask for their business card. Let them know when things go well. If there was a problem, let them know and suggest a way to improve the system. As the patient, you see things differently from the staff and may have a good idea that can help others. Keep all the cards you collect in your notebook to use if you need to reach out.
  2. After appointments, you can go into your patient portal to see your after-visit summary. Please read the summary to refresh what happened during the appointment and what was supposed to happen after it. If you have questions, you can send the doctor a note via the patient portal to clarify things.
  3. Unfortunately, you may need to check multiple patient portals as each doctor you see or hospital you go to will have their own portals, and many times, they don’t talk to each other. Despite this, having a patient portal with all your providers is a good idea as it gives you access to information about yourself, and you need to be your best advocate. When you visit a new doctor or hospital, ask the staff to set up a patient portal. The staff is versed in this and can help you set up your portal and teach you how to use it, or they will call someone on the IT team to assist. Put the portal’s name, user name, and password in your notebook. Check it often, ask questions of your doctors if you have questions, and leave your thoughts/questions if something happens between appointments.
  4. If you were supposed to have lab work, diagnostic tests or visit a specialist, make those appointments and ask that the results are in your patient portal before your next visit. If this can’t be done, call your doctor’s office to ensure the labs, diagnostic tests, and specialist reports were sent to the ordering doctor after you had the test/visits. Ask the ordering doctor’s staff to collect any outstanding tests and specialist visits so they are in your chart for the next visit. You want to avoid going to an appointment only to learn there is missing information. Take the lead to make sure things are done to avoid delays.
  5. If you must go into the hospital for an admission or the emergency department. Ask to meet the nurse manager once you get to your room. Let the manager know your name and why you are there. Taking that lead and getting to know the leadership is important. The staff working there needs to know you are on top of things. If you can’t do this yourself, ask the person accompanying you to do it. It may seem strange at first to do this, but getting to know who is iwho is mportant. It shows that you are part of the team and want everyone on the same page.
  6. When you get medications or someone tells you you are going for a test, ask what they are for. You should know about it – but if you don’t, ask the staff to check to ensure the medications or tests are for you. The staff is busy, and they sometimes make a mistake. So, double-checking is a good practice.
  7. Similarly, if you were supposed to get medication or go for a test and no one came for you, ask the nurse. Again, things can get lost in the craziness of the day.
  8. Have a notebook with you so you or the person with you can keep track of things. Write the date each day and note who comes to see you, who they were, and what they said. This is good information to know, especially as bills start coming in or new doctors come to see you; you can fill them in on what has happened to you up to this point. Again, a lot happens so keeping track of things is important.
  9. If you need or want something, ask for it. You want to be comfortable in your surroundings. Again, everyone is busy at the hospital or a doctor’s office, so you need to speak up.
  10. Today, many doctors are offering virtual visits or tele-visits. These are convenient ways to see your doctor for routine visits. Regardless of the way you see your doctor, prepare for the visit. Have your questions written down before you go to the appointment. Ask someone to go with you and take notes during or right after the visit so you remember what happened.

These tips help you be an active member of YOUR healthcare team. The more involved you are, the better care you will receive. If you have examples of things you did that helped you get the care you needed, prevented a medical error, or helped you get the care you required, leave a comment so we can all learn together!

Have a good week.



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