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Introduction to Making the Most of Health Care


Michael R. Wasserman

, MD, Los Angeles Jewish Home

Last full review/revision May 2021| Content last modified May 2021
Click here for the Professional Version

Gone are the days when everyone can rely solely on their family doctor with the help of a nurse to take charge of their health care. To obtain the best health care today, people should participate actively in the process. Active participation means many things:

  • Visiting a health care practitioner regularly

  • Obtaining appropriate preventive care

  • Communicating effectively with health care practitioners either directly or via a patient-identified family member or surrogate

  • Remaining watchful for signs of ill health or bodily changes (such as a change in the color of a mole or detection of a lump in a breast or testis)

  • Keeping a record of personal medical information

  • Learning about health care issues (including how care and drugs can be paid for—see Overview of Health Care Financing)

  • Becoming familiar with technology so they can participate in telemedicine when appropriate

  • Creating advance directives, including a healthcare power of attorney or preferences regarding organ donation, and making them available in case of emergency

For people with a specific disorder, active participation also means monitoring their health. For example, people with hypertension regularly measure their blood pressure, and people with diabetes regularly measure their blood sugar level.

Good communication—open, honest sharing of information—with health care practitioners is crucial because it can mean better health. With good communication, practitioners better understand the problems a person is having, and the person better understands how problems should be treated. It also fosters trust and confidence between the practitioner and the person, making the person more likely to follow the treatment regimen. Information on the internet (see Researching a Disorder), if it is reliable (see STANDS—Commentary), can help people learn about their health and conditions in ways that can enhance their relationship with their practitioner.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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