When you arrive back home after visiting your health care provider, do you ever ask yourself “Now what did she mean?” I may not be the sharpest bulb in the drawer, but I am literate and can read, write, and comprehend most things, but health literacy is difficult. Health Literacy defined by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Healthy People 2030 Initiative is “the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others”.
Today, I can find the notes and visit summaries of all my medical visits on MyChart so finding the information is the easiest part. But to understand and use the information is the challenge.
Your primary care provider’s responsibility is to help you understand and use the information so you can better manage your health. But it is also your responsibility to be an active participant in your health care. To do that here are several suggestions you can use when speaking with your primary care provider.
1.) Ask questions. And make sure you get the answers to those questions. “Why are you ordering this test? Why are you prescribing this medication? What side effects can it cause?
2.) Be your own pharmacist. Bring your medicines with you including your over-the-counter and prescription medicines, supplements, vitamins, and herbal medicines to make sure there are no drug interactions. Medline Plus is an excellent resource to better understand the medications you are taking.
3.) Tell the truth. This can be tough. You don’t want to give the impression you are slacking: not exercising or flossing, or worse yet not taking your medications. If you want the most accurate diagnosis and treatment you need to say it like it is.
4.) Bring someone with you. When it is more than my annual checkups, I bring my wife so there is another set of ears – and a better memory.
5.) Know your medical history. The more you know about your health history the better you can participate in your own health decisions.
6.) Tell them if you have a disability that may make communication more difficult. If it is hearing loss, remind them that talking louder helps, but talking clearly and facing you works better.
7.) Don’t walk away in the dark. Your health care provider wants to help you make the best health care decisions, so make sure you understand what your provider said. You can ask clarifying questions such as “Let me see if I understand this”.
With the advances in health care, information is more available but also more complicated and confusing even to the most educated people. Today it is important to not only know how to find your medical information but to also understand and use that information to better manage your health.
The series of signs which usually consisted of six consecutive small signs creating a short catchy verse advertised Burma Shave. (If you want to read all 600 Burma Shave jingles you can find them on the Internet at http://burma-shave.org/jingles/.) I received correct answers from Clare Zumwalt, Jay Gasperson, Billie Maxwell, Jeanne Pesicka, Al Winans, Susan Ellis, Norma Simpson, Linda Frizzell, Patty Burnet, Barbara Cadwell, Richard Shaw, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Pat Kelly, Gene Uczen, Keith Clymer, Lana Tepfer, and Glenna Mahurin this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. Last week I missed Sam Bilyeu, Jeanne Pesicka, Susan Ellis and Ron Nelson.
Last week it was highway literature but this week it is the fine literature of my youth. Well sort of. Archie Comics published comic books featuring stories of five high school friends: Archie, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, and Archie’s best friend the easy-going but lazy and slightly nonconformist friend Forsythe Pendleton Jones III. What was the nickname for Archie’s best friend? E-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the inside cover of a 1941 Riverdale High School Yearbook.
Well, that is the end of another box of cereal – and I still haven’t found the prize! Until we meet again, before you start making a big fuss consider what Vic Gold said. “The squeaking wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced!”
“If you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” Jean Kerr, writer