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Health tips: How to be an engaged patient

Thursday, March 27, 2014

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act is to place a greater focus on helping patients to be more involved in their care.

“Engaged patients have better health outcomes,” said Christine Amy, project director, Aligning Forces for Quality – Southcentral Pa. (AF4Q).

They tend to be more educated about their health conditions, ask questions and are better partners with their health care providers, according to Amy.

Engaged patients usually find it easier to navigate the complex health care system.

“Physicians and nurses appreciate engaged patients because it’s easier to help patients when you know their goals,” said Amy.

Follow these steps to be an engaged patient:

• Do your part to stay healthy. Stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and do your best to eat the right foods.

  • Research the quality of care that doctors and hospitals provide by using AF4Q’s Community Checkup (www.aligning4healthpa.org). Learn whether practices and patients have good control of health indicators, such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels, and other results relating to diabetes and heart disease.
  • Seek care as soon as you need it. Delays in getting care can make health problems more serious, more costly and harder to treat.
  • Ask questions. You need to understand the information you are given. Prepare for your next visit by taking questions to the doctor’s office. Use the AF4Q checklist to help you get started.
  • Make sure you understand. Did the doctor say a word you didn’t understand? It’s OK. Ask the doctor or health care provider to explain it in plain language, or ask for written instructions. It’s also helpful to repeat to the doctor what he/she said, but in your own words.
  • Be involved with decisions that affect your health. If your doctor recommends tests or treatment, ask for the information you need to make an informed decision.
  • Use your resources. AF4Q has lots of tip sheets to help you get quality care, and recommendations on how to stay healthy.

You may download these resources by visiting www.aligning4healthpa.org.

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