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We are fully in 2020 and this year, it’s important to think about your health and make sure that you can live the best life you can, for as long as you can. I’ll be 33 this August. I’m not going to go into how I feel about that, but whether you are 22, 33, or 55, it’s worth taking the extra step! Being on top of my healthcare goals means a lot to me, and this year, we don’t have time to play. With a new year, and possibly a new healthcare plan from last open enrollment season, I think it’s more important than ever to build a relationship with your doctor. It’s time to strengthen that relationship so your doctor becomes your partner in reaching your health and wellness goals.
Just a few years ago, I started looking at the doctor/patient relationship differently. For many years, the interactions between me and my doctor were impersonal. I can’t even say that I tried to do more than get in and get out. Realizing that a doctor can only support me if I let them get to know me was the first step in getting aligned so I could receive optimum care.
For many Californians, their relationship with their physician or healthcare provider goes beyond providing medical care. 73% say they are more concerned with an emotional connection with their physician, whereas only 15% care about physicians who are efficient with their time. Currently, my doctor is someone that listens to my concerns and inquires about my life outside of my health chart. It means a lot that while our interactions are brief, they are meaningful.
If you feel your relationship with your care providers is needing a tune-up or needs to be established, here are some ways to make sure you’re setting your relationship with your doctor up for success.
Make an appointment
There’s nothing to it except to do it! Seriously, as simple as it sounds, many put off making a doctor’s appointment. Once you get it on the calendar even if you feel great, even if you haven’t been sick this season, you’ll be on the right track. If you hate talking on the phone, no calls should be required. Often, you can book appointments with your primary care provider and OB/GYN online through the health providers’ website or an app.
Think about your health past and future — and write it down.
If you’re seeing a new doctor, or you haven’t been on top of your visits, take a few moments to note your health over the past year or so. Did you start a new fitness program? Allergies affecting you more than normal last season? Note that. It may help to look through your 2019 calendar to see what you were up to. After that, think about your future. Are you hoping to have a child in the next year or so? Do you want to live a more balanced life? Are you hoping to work with a therapist? Talk about it at your appointment so that you can get the resources you need. Don’t forget to take a list of all the medications (over the counter or otherwise) and supplements in your routine.
Share your findings with your doctor, and any concerns you may have.
Doctor’s appointments can be quick, but not so quick that you can’t share what’s on your mind. Don’t wait to be asked; introduce some of the things you want to discuss at the beginning of the appointment. If some things you bring up require a follow up after your physical, ask your doctor how long it will take for them to get back to you or to initiate the referral. If they do not get back to you when they said they would then make it a point to follow up with them.
If your doctor isn’t meeting your needs, go with your gut.
The first time something is missed, it can be an accident, but don’t be afraid or ashamed to be your own advocate. If one of those follow-ups seems to remain unresolved, or if you really feel like you and your doctor aren’t a match, go with your gut. Just because you’re assigned a doctor doesn’t mean you have to keep them. While I believe it takes more than one visit (maybe more than two visits) to get fully acquainted.
Now that you’ve gone to the doctor, encourage a friend to do the same
OK, this is a bonus one, but I’ll tell you what? I would never get mad at a friend for asking me how I’m doing health-wise and if I had been to the doctor lately! We’ve got to stick together and look out for each other, and that goes beyond happy hour. Strengthen your bond and get into the habit of keeping each other accountable for those goals they set with their doctor.
Our lives are ever-changing – our families grow, our jobs change, and our medical outlooks could vary, so it’s worth your time to make sure that your doctor is your partner and that you research your options and invest in the right plan! If you need additional resources to review everything, check out dignityhealth.org. Here’s to a healthy 2020!
Photos by Christina Best Photography