Sorting through a healthcare challenge can feel like navigating uncharted waters - drowning in a sea of health concerns and unfamiliar medical jargon. Physicians need more time with patients, payers must value the expertise of physicians and the perspectives of patients require respect.
It’s clear our medical system requires a reboot. And we are all working towards a better tomorrow. Until then, a focus on research and preparation before an appointment can be a supportive tool. Continue reading to learn about our RAFT preparation technique.
R - Research
Informative research is a critical step in preparing for your next appointment, managing an illness, or building a treatment plan. Dr. Google doesn’t always have the right answer though, so be sure to follow the below guidelines:
Check when the website information was last updated - Think carefully before you gather information about your health from websites that haven’t been updated in years.
Fact vs. Opinion - At the start of your journey, avoid websites with biased information, advertisements for diagnostic specific products and social posts with opinions.
Reputable educational sources - Doing your own research is a good thing, as long as it’s based on reliability. Healthcare associations, medical organizations, and patient advocacy groups are a great place to start. For recommendations, reach out to your health insurance carrier or physician.
What you do with your research is just as critical as the way you gather it. Your physician is the expert, so be sure to discuss the information you uncover to form a treatment plan.
A - Ask
Medical literacy is tough to master and there’s no shame in asking your doctor to simplify it. Whether you are asking for assistance or inquiring about next steps, “why” questions help you dig deeper and prepare. “Knowledge is power” and the more information you have to apply towards your decision, the better equipped you will be.
For specific questions to ask after receiving a diagnosis, review our checklist here.
F - Facilitate
Utilize the resources and connections around you to facilitate your moves forward, through a diagnosis or treatment.
Support group or social network - Identifying individuals who can validate your struggle is very important. Check in with your doctor or health insurance company for referrals and local support groups.
Second opinion - Medical professionals differ in their clinical approach. Therefore, it can be helpful to consult with a second physician to confirm what you know or uncover a new approach. Consider asking your network, friends, or insurance provider for a referral.
Companion - Navigating a health challenge alone is not easy that's why inviting a companion to join an appointment can increase patient comprehension by about 60%. Be sure to choose someone who can keep you calm and respect your wishes.
T - Thoughtful processing
Be thoughtful about the information you learned and the outstanding questions you have. Like we said - “Knowledge is power.” To make an educated decision, you must process the information you have gathered, identify what is missing and design your path forward. Before your next appointment, consider what information you may learn and your potential response. Critical thinking and preparation can always help navigate future decisions - as difficult as they may be.
There is much we can do to improve our healthcare system. In the meantime, grab a RAFT and let our preparation guide be your compass.