Navigating the Healthcare System
Health Care System

Navigating the Healthcare System

Before I was ordained as an interfaith minister and co-founded ‘The International Association of Women Spiritual Leaders, I spent a good part of my career as a registered nurse. So what does this have to do with you as a woman and leader of your business or ‘spiritual’ practice?

At some time in most of our lives, we will encounter the health care system either through our own illness or injury or that of a family member or friend. As you are aware of the articles we have written, we are very much into ‘self-care’. In my opinion, a major part of taking care of ourselves is having knowledge about how to do that. In a recent article, Patricia used the analogy of our intuition acting as a ‘GPS’ as guidance when making decisions. I would like to take that analogy and employ it for this article.

As we know, a ‘GPS’ (global positioning system), or any navigational system uses ‘waypoints’. A waypoint is a point of reference in physical space and essential to navigation. In my experience, it is essential for us to have ‘waypoints’ should we ever have to encounter and navigate the health care system.

It is a given that our health care system is complex, and when entering it, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have the knowledge necessary to make your way through what can be confusing, at the least and life-threatening, at the worst.

In order to be successful with the use of your ‘waypoints’, you cannot be passive, expecting that the health care system is patient-centered. It is not. Most medical providers would agree that the system is designed, “for efficiency” to revolve around the providers of care. And that doesn’t consider the impact the third-party payers have on the system! Accepting that it is essential to be assertive if and when you or a loved one enters the health care system, the following waypoints may be invaluable:

Waypoint #1:

Have a competent primary care physician, and establish and maintain a relationship. Reputation and word of mouth will assist you in making your choice should you not have a primary physician. That physician may be your advocate, and conduit to the medical care you may need. It also helps to befriend a member of the staff. When a report or other information is needed in a hurry, knowing someone can often expedite the process.

Waypoint #2:

Acquire and systematize your medical records. Considering that a universal electronic record-keeping system is in the future, you have to be the “gatekeeper” of your medical information, including lab reports, radiology tests, surgical procedures, etc. That includes records generated by specialists you may have seen. And what about the medications and supplements you are taking? Each physician you consult should know about these.

Waypoint #3:

Ask questions! If you are not sure you were heard or understood, re-state your concern. It is better to err on the side of caution than to have a misunderstanding result in a mistake, or worse. Communication in our society is challenging anyway. Compound that with the anxiety you feel and sense of the health care provider “being in a hurry” and communication becomes ineffective. Make sure you are heard and understood!

Waypoint #4:

Research the internet and other sources for information regarding your medical challenge, but don’t rely totally on what you learn. So often diagnoses are missed because someone thought their symptoms “belonged” to another disease or injury. In this age of information, sometimes too much is worse than too little. Remember, even physicians and other health care providers seek the advice of the experts when they need it!

Waypoint #5:

Arrange today, or as soon as scheduling allows, for someone to be your advocate should you ever encounter a serious illness or injury. This person can be a trusted friend, family member, or nurse case manager. It is beneficial to you if they know how to be assertive. They will be the asker of the questions, the helper in problem-solving, and the communicator to you as to what is occurring. When you are dealing with symptoms, and not at your best, your advocate is your stand-in.

I trust this information has been helpful, and that you will follow the waypoints if you don’t already have a system in place for dealing with those unexpected illnesses and injuries.

Love and Blessings for Robust Health!

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