3 min read

How to Take Ownership of Your Health Care Journey

By Signify Health Team on 5/23/24 10:00 AM

Tips for becoming more involved in your health care.

We have all experienced being introduced to someone for the first time, and within minutes, we have forgotten their name. Most of us have walked into a room for a specific reason only to forget the reason. It is also to open the refrigerator for an item and not remember the item we had planned to retrieve. Being forgetful is part of being human. 

It may be one thing to forget someone’s name or the item you walked into a room for, but what happens when you are in an appointment with your primary care provider or other health care team members? Talking with nurses and doctors can be overwhelming. The office or clinic is often busy, it can be loud, and despite having time with your provider, it can be easy to forget to ask specific questions. It can lead to forgetting important details your provider has shared with you.

Being more involved with your health care journey can improve your health. The more comfortable you are with your doctor and the office setting, the more relaxed you will be, which makes it easier to have an open, constructive conversation. Taking ownership of your health begins with you, but how can you do that? Below are some tips for becoming more involved in your health.

  1.       Prepare for your appointment.

Look at your medications, including non-prescription medicines like aspirin, antacids, vitamins, and supplements. Make a list of everything you take to share with your doctor. Talk with your family or close friends about your health, and write down questions to ask your doctor about any concerns you observe. Write down any symptoms you have been experiencing, such as trouble sleeping, shortness of breath, or any changes to your health.

  1.       Join in the conversation.

It is easy to let the nurses and doctors do most of the talking during a health care appointment. They are used to asking questions, and patients are used to providing the answers. However, speaking up in the conversation will not only help your care team, but it will also help you. Rely on the notes you took before your appointment and use them as a checklist – make sure you are given time to ask all your questions. It is often helpful to take notes during your appointment or ask a nurse or assistant to take notes for you. This will send the message to your care team that you are taking your health seriously, and they will support your requests.

  1.       Follow up after your appointment.

Seeing a doctor, having labwork done, and having conversations about your health can be tiring. Sometimes, you must fill a prescription, which adds more to your experience. When you get home, make sure you fully understand your conversations, including all the instructions you were given. If you are unsure or have a follow-up appointment, do not wait until your next appointment. Call your doctor’s office and let them know you have additional questions.

  1.       Maintain communication.

If your health changes or you begin to feel as if medications are not working or making you feel unwell, it is important to communicate with your health care team between appointments. Today’s health care practices encourage patients to call and stay in touch with them. Even if your doctor’s office calls to check on you, if you begin to experience concerns, it is okay to contact them and let them know. You are the best judge of your health, and you can be the eyes and ears of your health care team when you are not in their office.

  1.       Keep a health care journal.

Patients who have high blood pressure or diabetes are often asked to monitor their pressure and sugar levels in between appointment times. Keeping a health care journal is an excellent way to take notes and monitor your health – even if you do not have high blood pressure or diabetes. Writing an entry each day or every few days will help you track your health and notice subtle changes in your health. When it is time for an appointment, your health care journal will be a great tool and resource for your health care team.