Healthcare can be complex and foreign, especially for those who do not need health care regularly. As a local family medicine physician, I often see patients who are establishing with a provider and unsure where to start.
It is important to know wherever you are in your health care journey, you have skilled professionals who are here to help you understand the complexities of the system and find accessible options to stay healthy.
In my practice, I like to provide as much education and resources to my patients, so they feel empowered to play a lead role in their health. With any relationship, you want to build trust. Instead of thinking of health care as transactional, consider it a long-term partnership that requires nurturing to reach your goals.
Here are some tips to get you started.
- Find a family medicine provider and meet annually. I realize how simple this sounds but you would be surprised how many new patients we see who have not been to a doctor in years. Not only is an annual physical important, but it also helps establish a health history. The more you stick to an annual schedule, the easier it will be for you and your provider to identify changes and discuss important concerns.
- Update your family history. Each time you see your provider, ensure your family history is updated. Talk to your family members to get current health. This helps us assess whether you need screenings such as mammography, colonoscopy or similar before the nationally recommended guidelines.
- Know your body and speak up. Do not be afraid to share new information with your provider. Only you know what has changed or what does not seem right. Voice these concerns right away. We are here to assist and walk you through the process of investigation.
- Remain in charge. Your health should be managed by you with the support of your provider. If you have lab work or diagnostic imaging, obtain a copy of the results, and take notes. Use this as a guide to prepare for your follow-up appointments. Your provider will typically share the turnaround time, so set reminders to ensure you hear back and understand the results.
- Get familiar with the patient portal. This tool is now widely used by providers across the community and is a great way to send brief secure messages, access records and book appointments. If a matter is urgent, I suggest calling. Providers have a lot of follow-up to do for each patient and the portal is a streamlined system for our entire care team to respond to patients in a timely manner.
- Come prepared. Whether it is your first visit or one of many, come to your appointment prepared with a list of questions. Despite our best intentions, it is difficult to remember every detail shared during an appointment.
Whether you are just starting to navigate health care or have seen a provider for years, I encourage you to invest time in your relationship with your provider. Our goal is to keep you healthy, and we want to do so in a collaborative way that makes health care simple. It is never too late to seek health care or learn of the many options available to you ranging from Western medicine to holistic practices.
Learn about “what role do you play in your health care?” at NCET’s Biz Café on July 20 at the UNR Innevation Center. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. For tickets and more information click here.
Amanda Magrini, MD is a family medicine physician and medical director at Northern Nevada Medical Group (www.northernnevadahealth.com). She has long supported the northern Nevada community and is a graduate from UNR Med.