How to Get the Most out of Your Healthcare.

By Dr. Brian Fortuin, MD

Our country boasts the most sophisticated healthcare system in the universe, but how does the average person tap into it? Myriad resources exist to guide you through our healthcare system; I would like to offer a few simple ideas to help you maximize what you get from it. These ideas apply to both healthy people trying to stay well, as well as people with illnesses trying to get healthy.

Get Informed.

I am amazed at how few people show up to an appointment having done their homework. The Internet, the library, books and magazines are all great resources. If people spent as much time researching their health as they do Googling their favorite celebrity, we would have a much healthier society. The more you know about your body, the better you can take care of yourself. Take the time to educate yourself before going to your doc to get clarification and his or her expert opinion.

Expect an Explanation.

You should expect your doctor to explain his or her reasoning. We docs like to teach, to inform and to heal. A good patient participates in the process by asking questions, providing information and actively interacting during a visit. You should invite us to explain what is wrong, what needs to be done and why. Your doc has expertise and training in medicine; ask him or her to educate you about your body and your health.

Utilize Preventative Services.

Health insurance companies are easy targets for criticism. Either our entire paycheck goes to the premium or the deductible is so high that we could get a whole body transplant and still not meet it. Many patients, however, do not get the full value from their insurance plan. Many plans have a wellness benefit which pays for preventive services. Most insurance companies have a robust website that provides guidance for patients asking questions about their health. Check out your insurance plan. Find out about your preventive benefits and use them.

Be prepared.

While you’re sitting in our waiting room for hours, rather than getting angry about the wait, think through what you want out of your visit and what questions you would like to have answered. Write your questions down, make a list of what illnesses run in your family, and write down your prior surgeries, illnesses, medications, allergies and other pertinent personal health facts. The more prepared you are, the more you will get out of your visit.

Nobody cares about your health as much as you do. Take control of it. You bring your car in for a lube, oil and filter every 3,000 miles – isn’t your body worth at least the same level of attention? Get value from the healthcare system, expect information from your doctor, and be prepared.