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Advocate for Your Health


Advocate for Your Health

Navigating the health care sector can be intimidating. And ensuring you get the best care possible from your team of health care practitioners isn’t always easy. Keep reading for strategies that can give you the confidence and knowledge to be your own health advocate.

Too much information?

The abundance of information available has made it possible for us to take a more active role in our health care. In today’s technological age, the Internet is often our first resource for health information.

However, this is not always the best approach for several reasons. First, anyone with Internet access can call themselves “experts,” providing health or medical advice with no real medical background. Second, using the Internet as a medical research tool can induce stress in those prone to worrying. In fact, because of the Internet, a new condition dubbed “cyberchondria” has emerged whereby hypochondriacs surf the net, increasing their anxiety.

But the Internet is not all bad—in fact, there are several online resources that are backed by scientific research and are vetted by health professionals.

Sharon Gurm, naturopathic physician and founder of Port Moody Naturopathic Health & Wellness, says, “Generally, medical websites tend to be the most reliable sources on the Internet.”

However, she still touts old-fashioned research strategies: “I would advise reading appropriate literature—books authored by credible medical [and] professionals—available at the library or at your local bookstore.” Should research reveal conflicting information, Gurm suggests discussing it with your health care practitioner before making any changes to your treatment.

Further, ask your health care team for recommended reading materials as well as any take-home materials they may have in-office.

Be prepared

A health care practitioner’s time is valuable. Try these tips for getting the most out of your appointment.

Fill in the blanks
When seeing a new practitioner, patients are required to fill out a plethora of forms. Many of these forms are now available for download on clinics’ websites and can be filled out ahead of time. If this option is not available, arrive early to the appointment or request the clinic fax a copy for your attention.

Make a list and prioritize
Prior to the appointment make a list of questions to ask the health care practitioner. Then prioritize the questions in order of importance. Chances are the time restrictions of an appointment will not allow all questions to be answered, so it’s necessary to determine which are most important to you.

Seek support
An appointment with a health care practitioner can often be overwhelming. If this is the case, consider bringing a supportive family member or friend along to the appointment.

Take note
Even those with sharp memories can have a hard time recalling what was discussed in an appointment. Note-taking is an excellent solution to this problem.

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