It’s important to feel comfortable and confident while speaking with your healthcare provider. Because there’s nothing worse than leaving a doctor’s appointment feeling disempowered and like you didn’t get what you needed from your appointment. Whether it’s because you felt overwhelmed and forgot the questions you wanted to ask, or because you weren’t feeling confident enough to advocate for yourself or your loved ones to receive the care needed. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t feel good.
Managing and advocating for adequate healthcare for yourself or a loved one is more often than not being placed in the hands of women. Whether a mother, a sister, or a daughter, 80% of family healthcare decisions are being made by women in households across the US. And it’s a lot to manage on your own. Understanding the stress and pressure surrounding healthcare management, we created this guide to support you in navigating the healthcare system with confidence so that you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones during times of need.
Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider
Coming prepared to your appointment with questions is an important part of empowering yourself and to help you feel confident in managing yours or your families healthcare. Make sure that you are taking the time before any appointments to make note of all the questions you wish to have answered. This will help you stay organized, feel in control of the experience, and stay on track during your appointment.
Here are some important questions to consider asking your doctor to support you in advocating for yourself or your loved ones healthcare:
- What tests are required for this?
- When can I expect to hear back with the results?
- Is it possible to be referred to a specialist for additional testing?
- This is a great question to ask if you have not received any definitive results
- When should I expect to hear from your office regarding my referral?
- How can I best research my condition prior to beginning treatment?
- What is the success rate of this particular treatment plan?
- What are the possible side effects of this treatment option?
- What alternative treatment plans are available?
- Is it possible my symptoms are related to another condition?
- When should I follow up if my symptoms resolve? How about if they do not resolve?
Of course the questions you ask will depend on the reason for the appointment, but these are a good place to start.
How to Lead the Conversation
These days the average doctor’s appointment is only 15-minutes. It is important to feel confident leading the conversation with your healthcare provider, so that you can make the most of your appointment and leave with answers rather than more questions.
In order to feel comfortable leading the conversation you must resource yourself beforehand. This means organizing yourself, your thoughts, and your questions prior to the appointment. Resourcing yourself could include writing down all of the symptoms you are experiencing, as well as medications you’re taking, anything you’ve ruled out during previous testing, or questions you have about symptoms, etc.
This will allow you to feel prepared for the appointment, and will help you stay on track during the appointment. Removing the stress of not knowing what to say or the fear of forgetting which questions to ask, by giving yourself a point of reference to lead the conversation from. As you only have limited time with the doctor, make sure you prioritize your top concerns to ensure your most pressing questions are answered first.
Get the Clarity You Need
Clarity about your condition can only come when you are honest with yourself and your healthcare provider. Don’t be afraid or feel embarrassed to share details of your lifestyle with your doctor. They are highly trained professionals and are there to help you – without judgment. They can only diagnose you and provide you with the best care based on their knowledge of your condition. Make sure to tell the whole story. The right doctor will make you feel comfortable to share the necessary details with them, rather than ashamed.
Remember to take a deep breath before heading into the appointment. Slow down, and don’t rush yourself. Take the time you need, if there is anything you don’t understand, ask questions and get clarification so that you can leave the appointment feeling confident knowing what is going on and what the next steps are. If you are unsatisfied and are leaving your appointment feeling confused, don’t hesitate to schedule a follow-up appointment or to seek out a second opinion.
Stand Up for Yourself
It’s ok to disagree with your healthcare provider. It’s just important for you to speak up for yourself when you do. A good doctor will respect you and your right to autonomy, and will welcome an open dialogue surrounding your healthcare.Their priority is your health, this includes addressing your concerns so that they can tailor the treatment plan to you and create the best possible outcome. Use your voice and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need – you are your own best advocate.
If you feel stressed about your ability to advocate for yourself and exercise autonomy, bring a loved one with you to the appointment to be an extra set of ears and to advocate on your behalf if necessary. Make sure you have a conversation with them beforehand about what concerns you have and what questions you want to ask. Preparing them with any relevant information they may need to best support you and converse with your doctor.
And if you are leaving your appointment feeling confused and unsatisfied, don’t hesitate to schedule a follow-up appointment or to seek out a second opinion. The right doctor will provide compassionate guidance and will make you feel safe to express yourself and your concerns during your visit.
Want more information on how to empower yourself in your doctor’s appointments and how to make sure you’re receiving the best, individualized, and supportive care from your healthcare providers? Sign up for the waitlist for the Acensa Health app.