Wise Health Care Consumer Brought to you by Senior Extra at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Be a wise health care consumer

Americans are enthusiastic consumers. We spend a lot of time researching and shopping, looking for the best prices and value for our money. But when it comes to our health care, we often don’t spend as much time thinking about it as we should. In fact, many people spend more time researching a car mechanic or a realtor than they do their primary care doctor.

February is Wise Health Care Consumer Month and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program would like to share tips for finding the right doctor and making the most of your medical appointments.

Maintain your health with regular checkups

Regular health checkups are important to prevent problems from occurring, and can identify conditions early when treatment is most effective. By taking advantage of your health care plan's preventive health benefits, you're taking important steps to ensure a healthier life.

Your primary care doctor is at the center of your care, working collaboratively with other health care providers to coordinate all your health needs. So, it’s important that you feel comfortable with him or her. Whether you need to choose a new doctor or are considering changing providers, the health care professionals at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center recommend the following tips for finding the right doctor:

  • Make sure you have a list of doctors covered by your plan. You can usually find this online through your health insurance provider or you can call them to find out how to obtain a comprehensive listing.
  • Ask others for suggestions. Talk to friends, neighbors and family members and get their recommendations. This gives you an opportunity to learn about a doctor’s manner and how he or she interacts with patients. Find out whether the doctor is serious, lighthearted, patient, highly empathetic or otherwise, and consider whether he or she is someone you can relate to.
  • Get the office basics. Find out how many patients are scheduled each hour, typical wait times, and how payment is handled. Ask about hours, whether they have other office locations, and who you should contact during nonbusiness hours. Is there a walk-in clinic or urgent care center you should use?
  • Are you seeking particular expertise? If you have a particular health problem, consider whether you prefer a primary care provider who specializes in that area, such as diabetes or autoimmune disease care, or another area of expertise.
  • Learn about the doctor’s affiliations. Which hospital is the doctor affiliated with? Is this a hospital that’s convenient to where you live? Who will the doctor refer you to for any special health needs?

Now more than ever, people are getting more involved in their health care, and that’s an integral part of maintaining good health.  It’s important for patients to ask questions and talk to their doctors openly and honestly — good health is a partnership between doctor and patient, so it’s important that patients feel comfortable with their doctor.

Make the most of your appointment

Before your next visit to the doctor, take some time to prepare so you can make the most out of your visit. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember questions or details once you’re in the office, so making a list beforehand can help ensure you don’t leave anything out. Be prepared to:

  • Describe your symptoms by explaining when they started, whether they've changed since they began, and if anything makes them go away. If you’ve experienced them before, explain when or in what circumstances.
  • Provide thorough information about your health such as medical history, allergies, medications you take, daily lifestyle habits, and any recent changes in your life.
  • Ask questions about diagnosis and treatment information: What tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis? How is it treated? Is there a way to prevent it in the future? What are the costs associated with testing and treatment? Where can you find more information?

Bring a small notebook and take notes if necessary. If there’s limited time, ask to speak with a nurse or assistant after the appointment so you can write down the information without feeling rushed. If you have questions once you get home, call the office. Don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about asking questions — understanding your condition and the next steps are important, so make sure you get the answers you need.

The key to maintaining good health is to take an active role in your health care. See your doctor regularly and ask questions, follow his or her advice, and utilize the preventive health resources available to you. Your health is your most valuable asset — it deserves a little extra time.

About Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Lake Norman Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive medical care to individuals throughout the greater Lake Norman region. Located just off I-77 at Exit 33, the Mooresville medical campus offers complete specialty services from 24-hour emergency medicine and maternity to oncology and advanced surgical services. For more information about the services offered at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, please visit www.LNRMC.com.

About Senior Extra

Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.SeniorExtra.com, or contact Mitzie McCurdy, Director of Community Outreach & Senior Extra at (704) 660-4859.

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.