When it comes to our health, we all want good medical care. We are bombarded with health information, but how do we decipher it all? We don’t want to ignore the data, nor do we want to drown in its volume. The right amount of information – utilized wisely – can be very comforting, and lead to good healthcare.
Most health providers expect their patients to partake in their plan of care. The plan entails being informed, determining your information personality, and finding the right doctor for you. Here are some details about these three categories:
Part I: Being informed about your health:
Part II: Decipher the information and determine your information personality
Part III: Find the right doctor for you
*Single-page health summary includes: Your name, date-of-birth, address, phone numbers, emergency contacts and health proxy, insurance information and key physicians involved in your healthcare. Include a brief history of your medical conditions and surgeries, vaccine record, allergies, and medication/supplement list. (Do not list your social security #; it is not required for routine identification within the healthcare system).
Patient Privacy and Protection: Most of us have heard all too often the term, HIPAA, which stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This 1996 act provides the consumer with a national standard for handling our medical information, access to our own records, notification of privacy practices, disclosure policies about our health information, and processes for filing complaints and penalties (http://patients.about.com). But be aware, here are some examples of organizations not covered under HIPAA (which means they DO have access to your medical information): governmental agencies, auto insurance plans, law enforcement agencies, or data companies that provide your health information to insurance companies (disability, life, or Workers Compensation programs).
The outcome should be a plan of care that is customized for you. It helps to be an informed patient. “When you don't fully understand or can’t act on information about your health care, you are more likely to be in poorer health” (http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/cc.htm). Take the steps to access health information without overloading yourself with too much. Sometimes “less is more.” Work with a doctor who is right for you and be a participant in the development of an effective plan of care. The outcome is worth the time and effort.
Charlotte Michos is a clinical nurse specialist who values personal-centered care and serves as a Healthcare Consultant in helping others make informed decisions. For more information, email her or call (845) 548-5980.
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