10 ways to be an effective health care advocate for yourself and loved ones

From cancer care to chronic disease management, the growing role of patient self-advocacy in health care has become a hot topic. Team-based care, a popular goal in modern health care systems, actively positions patients as full participants in their own care. While this approach can improve the patient-provider relationship and increase patient satisfaction, not all patients and families are ready to step right into this role.

Are you prepared to be an effective advocate in your health care?

Self-advocacy in health care involves becoming armed with the necessary knowledge and tools to communicate well and make competent choices about your care and the care of your loved ones. It can also include ensuring access to care and addressing disparities in health care. Some perceived benefits of self-advocacy include improved patient-centered care, better patient-provider relationships and improved health outcomes.

Communicating with physicians and specialists can be overwhelming, especially when facing complex medical concerns or a new diagnosis. Patients navigating ongoing medical appointments with multiple providers often find themselves with loads of information to process and share with their other providers. Relevant details to share with providers may include recent lab results, food diaries, current medication list, past medical procedures and surgeries, symptoms, and findings from concurrent medical appointments.

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