It’s the physician’s job to help care for patients’ well-being, but there are multiple steps the patient can take to help the doctor ensure the best outcomes from routine visits.
Taking the proper steps to be proactive in personal health care is simpler than one would think, but health care providers say it’s easier said than done. Though at the end of the day, the easiest way to helping the doctor is straightforward, open communication.
“It is one of the most vital things because that is where the beginning of treatment starts,” said Kathy May, a registered nurse and case manager at Massac Memorial Hospital. “Subjective information is how the doctor formulates their care. So the more information the doctor has, the easier it is to pick up the treatment.”
Truthful and accurate information about what the patient is experiencing can make the difference in an accurate diagnosis. To ensure the most from any doctor’s visit, Dr. Jim Eickholz, a family medicine physician and former Western Baptist Hospital medical staff president, said patients could rehearse what they plan to tell the doctor beforehand.
“Sometimes patients aren’t prepared and they might lead (the doctor) down the wrong path with wrong information,” Eickholz said. “So talk it over with a close friend or family member before, so we don’t get off track.”
Leaving out critical details about bad habits or failure to be thorough about your physical symptoms may compromise the examination.
Another important factor, especially when visiting a new doctor, is maintaining detailed health care documentation of prescription medications, previous procedures and a family history of ailments.
“Make sure it’s an accurate and updated list so that no mistakes are made,” May said.
When so many people take multiple, daily medications for various symptoms, Eickholz said it can be prudent to carry a list of medications. For instance, Western Baptist supplies tri-fold cards detailing the medication name and frequency with which the patient takes it, all folding into a card that fits into a wallet, Eickholz said.
Technology is also playing a big part in helping patients track their medications.
“We e-prescribe here,” Eickholz said. “Instead of writing out a prescription, everything goes to the pharmacy electronically. With the touch of a button, I can see what you’ve filled in the last few years.”
With the proliferation of computers in the last several years, May said many patients keep track of all their medical records on their computer, simply updating and printing out a copy before their next doctor’s visit.
Online medical resources also help the patient become more knowledgeable about their potential ailment and sometimes allows for easier treatment. Though it’s always important to remember while an online diagnosis might help begin a conversation, the physician’s educated determination can accurately steer patient care effectively and efficiently, Eickholz said.
“The more educated a person is about their health, the better care they can take up themselves,” May said.
Call Will Pinkston, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.