No One Knows You, Like You

Tips for Taking Ownership of Your Healthcare

It is 4:58 pm, just minutes from your doctors appointment. You arrive early and are ushered into a patient room, anxiously waiting for the results of an important test. Your doctor walks in, delivers the results and diagnosis, and describes your treatment plan. You listen passively to the information, thank the doctor, shake hands, and leave the office.

For some people, this type of interaction with their physician is totally normal. After all, doctors are knowledgeable and specialized healthcare professionals. However, as a patient, it is important to remember that you are the most critical part of the puzzle.

No One Knows You, Like You Do.

Patients that are engaged in their healthcare may be more satisfied with their therapy or treatment because they were involved in the decision-making process.

For instance, you know when you feel unwell or when things don’t seem to be going right. Patients who play an active role in their healthcare communicate these new symptoms or observations to their doctors, which may make a difference in the type of therapy recommended to them.

Simply put, a doctor can only treat the symptoms and feelings that are shared with them. Despite this, many people shy away from these types of conversations with their care teams. It can be hard to talk with your doctor even when you’re healthy, let alone when you are feeling unwell.

Today there is an increased focus in healthcare on not just providing treatments and writing prescriptions, but improving patient health and quality of life. To do that, it is important to have good communication with your healthcare team. Because like we said, no one knows you, like you do. This teamwork between healthcare professional and patient is how it is possible to achieve the health and quality of life that you both desire.

If you are living on dialysis or have another chronic condition, having these honest and open discussions may make the difference in selecting the care option that works best for you.

Where Do I Start?
For many patients, having a conversation with their doctor about their care may seem overwhelming. So we’ve put together some tips to help you start to take more ownership of your care.

1. Create a health diary.

Spend time before your visit taking notes on how you are feeling. Our “About Me” Daily Tracker is designed to help dialysis patients evaluate any emotions or physical symptoms their experiencing. You can use this document as a guide to help start the conversation at your appointment.

Writing health diary
2. Go prepared to ask questions.

Remember that it is okay to ask questions. It’s important to understand all the details of your treatment or diagnosis.

3.  Bring a pad of paper and pen to your appointment.

New questions may come to you while you’re in the waiting room or as your doctor is talking. If you have paper and pen, you can jot them down so you don’t forget to ask them.

4.  Bring a family member or friend with you.

It can be hard to remember all the new information your doctor provides. Remember, 40% to 80% of medical information in a visit is forgotten instantly1 so it is important to take your time when discussing treatment or therapy information.

Bring a friend or family member with you to write down everything your doctor says.

Visit with doctor and family member
5. Follow up with your doctor.

If you have more questions or forgot to ask something, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor again. Following-up with your doctor by phone or scheduling another appointment will ensure you get all the information you need.

  1. Kessels RPC. Patients’ memory for medical information. J R Soc Med. 2003;96:219-222.