Be Active in Your Self-Care and Healthcare
Your job is to take an active role in your own healthcare by:
- Paying attention to your physical wellbeing and addressing symptoms
- Knowing how and when to handle a health problem yourself and when to call a care provider
- Understanding the underlying causes of your health conditions
- Understanding the different treatment alternatives available for your condition and collaborating with your provider to develop a plan that best meets your needs
- Following through on medical treatments that you need to do at home
- Getting preventive healthcare, including regular healthcare checkups and recommended healthcare screenings
A critical aspect of taking charge of your health is being a vital member of the healthcare team. You are a partner with your providers in your healthcare. Remember, although you may rely on health professionals to advise you, you have the final say.
Have Your Personal Health Record at Your Fingertips
Keeping your own complete, updated, and easily accessible personal health record means you can play a more active role in your healthcare.
Medical records and your personal health record (PHR) are not the same thing. Medical records contain information about your health compiled and maintained by each of your healthcare providers. Your personal health record summarizes this information-all in one place. This is important since your health information is scattered across many different providers and facilities.
You can create your personal health record online or on paper. Either way, it is a single place where you can keep track of:
- Health conditions
- Diagnostic tests (laboratory tests and X-rays)
- Immunizations and screenings
- Family history
Having your personal health record at your fingertips gives you convenient, easy access to your health information:
- While traveling
- When your doctor's office is closed
- When you need to discuss your health with a provider
- When you need to provide complete information to new caregiver or specialist
Having your health history in one place can also save you the money and inconvenience of repeating routine medical tests by reducing or eliminating duplicate procedures or processes.
Personal health records also keep you safe by preventing medication errors and duplicate prescriptions that can potentially have catastrophic outcomes.
See Navigating the Healthcare System for important and specific tips on how handle a health problem, how to choose and communicate with providers, and how to evaluate your healthcare options.
Schedule Well-Care Visits
Healthcare visits should not be limited to addressing an illness or symptoms.
Remember to schedule regular health checkups, during which the focus is wellness and prevention. Being proactive can help identify a medical condition before symptoms appear. The frequency of well-care visits depends on your age, sex, risk factors, and family history.
Take Action for Prevention
There are general guidelines for screening tests and immunization that are recommended for men, women, and children. However, these recommendations need to be personalized to your age, sex, risk factors, symptoms, and family history to best meet your healthcare needs.
Take time to review these general guidelines for screening tests and immunizations for men and women at http://www.4women.gov. Then, make an appointment today and become a partner with your doctor or nurse to decide on your personal wellness and prevention plan.
Remember to share your family history, speak up, voice your concerns, and always ask questions.