We’ve been hearing a lot about healthcare lately, which reminded me just how important it is to take proactive steps to manage our own healthcare. I’m not recommending that you act as your own doctor, or that you completely ignore your doctor’s advice. But you need to be the one managing your life and your health.
Here's How to Manage Your Healthcare
- Do your homework. If you have high blood pressure, angina, diabetes, or another health concern, your doctor will obviously make specific recommendations. But the rationale behind those recommendations is often incomplete—leaving it up to you to identify the true risks and benefits. Have an honest discussion with your doctor about those recommendations and your alternatives. Ask questions, and make sure you understand the answers.
- Start slow. If a patient came to me with blood pressure higher than 180/100, or a blood sugar level in the 300s, you can bet that I’d start them on a medication right away to address the emergency situation. But for most people, starting off with the more drastic (and costly) measures of drugs, or even surgery, is totally unnecessary. Ask your doctor whether your case is an emergency, or whether you have time to let natural therapies work.
- Follow the plan. Once you and your doctor have decided on a course of action, follow through. If the solution turns out to be medication, take your meds faithfully as directed. If it’s a dietary change, more exercise, or quitting smoking, stick with that solution.
- Track your health. Once you begin a course of action, check regularly to see how it’s working by keeping a log. Make sure your doctor knows how the plan is working for you, so you can make adjustments as needed. If a plan is not working the way you want, insist on a change. Remember, you’re in charge.
- Be careful. Mistakes, such as receiving the wrong medication in the hospital or an unnecessary procedure, can be very damaging to your health—even deadly. Ask questions at every opportunity about what your doctor is doing and why, and what the alternatives are. If you’re not in shape to ask on your own, have someone advocate on your behalf.
- Most of all, make your health your hobby, as I do. Take targeted nutritional supplements, eat well, exercise, detox, and keep your mind and body balanced with activities like yoga or pilates. All of these positive lifestyle changes will help to keep you out of the hospital and lessen the frequency with which you need a doctor.
Now it’s your turn: What have you done to manage your own healthcare?