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Healthcare Quarterbacking: Being the Point Person

Healthcare Quarterbacking: Being the Point Person
By Kristina James
Published by Ruby

Ruby helps you and your family work together to prepare and organize finances.

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Your cardiologist, neurologist, nephrologist, psychiatrist, oncologist, dermatologist and everyone else have one thing in common: You.

When there’s a new diagnosis medicine moves fast. In this situation, it’s important to advocate for yourself and/or your loved one. You need to make sure your primary care physician knows who’s prescribing what and that everyone’s clear on your definition of Quality Of Life.

 

Like a pro.

We’ve collected some strategies to make you the best point person you can be without emptying the tank. Whether you are an analog type (old school), or a digital type (new school), we have 5 ways to help you be the captain of your own healthcare ship.

 

What is a healthcare point person, and why does it matter?

In previous years, people were more willing to allow their healthcare providers to direct them on all their healthcare decisions, but today, there are ways that people can become better partners in this process.

You may be going to see a doctor often – for yourself or your loved one – and, on top of that, you have to communicate with the primary care physician, along with so many other healthcare professionals. Whether you like it or not, this means you are also a key player in monitoring your situation, and playing your part by taking prescribed medication or giving it to your loved one.

 

But… what do I know?

Your loved one may have chronic conditions, and/or worry that if they speak up, the doctor may be offended. There may be times when you have to step up and step in as an advocate for yourself or your loved one, and this means that you need to keep them more informed on what is happening with current care.

 

In order to get the best care, you need to ask for it.

In order to ask for it, you need to be prepared and have all the info you need for each doctor at the ready.

 

How to Be an Effective Health Care Point Person in 5 Steps:

Being the most effective healthcare point person requires some up-front organization. It may take a bit of set up in the beginning, but you will be oh so glad you did when you are trying to keep track of who prescribed what, how much insurance covers, and what type of treatment you are comfortable with. Here are 5 strategies for preparing yourself to be the best point person possible.

1. Your Team Roster

Old School Strategy

Create a document (or just write one) that lists all the doctors, specialists, therapists, psychiatrists, or anyone else that is offering you treatment. We’ll call this document your Team Roster. If they are your team, you have to be the quarterback. Make sure you list what they do and their phone number in case you need to connect two of your healthcare providers. Sometimes it’s a good idea to ask them if they would coordinate care.

 

New School Strategy

The Ruby Vault

Let Ruby guide you through creating your Team Roster, and store it in your Ruby Vault – the safest place to keep it. Both you and the important people in your Circle have access to all this vital information 24/7.

Patient Portal

Your healthcare provider – whether an insurance company or hospital group will also have an online patient portal, that will have the details of doctors’ names, some notes, and results from visits and tests, and recent prescriptions and doses.

Apps.

If you or a loved one has a specific diagnosis, there may be diagnosis-specific apps that are tailored to the specific care you need.

One example is the Diabetes Manager by WellDoc. This device works by capturing blood-glucose information and transmitting it in real-time. WellDoc’s system analyzes the data and offers a personalized coach to help patients manage their medication and treatment. It also promotes interaction between healthcare professionals and patients by assessing where users need help most.

2. Appointment Prep-Talk

Old School Strategy

Before your appointment, make a written list of your concerns and put them in priority order. Be honest and straightforward. This list helps you when you get distracted because the doctor may be rushing when they see you.

Here’s a couple of things to think through as you make your list:

  • Have you observed new symptoms that worry you?
  • Reactions to medications?
  • Questions about an upcoming surgery?
  • Embarrassing topics that you would rather not talk about

It isn’t always possible to have all your questions answered in a brief appointment—this is why you want to ask the most important ones first.

 

New School Strategy

If there are questions you don’t get to or if you just can’t bring yourself to ask about that rash or incontinence, most doctor’s offices have a patient portal and you can ask your questions there. This gives the doctor time to gather the right resources for you and she can respond to them in between appointments.

3. Medication Management

First

Gather all the medications your loved one takes and either put them in a bag to bring to the appointment or prepare a list, including dosages. This should include prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, herbals, and vitamins. Don’t forget CBD or other essential oils you include in your regimen.

We cover Medication Management strategies in detail in these articles over here and here.

 

Old School Strategy

Day-by-day pill organizers and dispensers can be a big help to frazzled caregivers with a lot on their minds and little time to keep organized.

 

New School Strategy

Unit dose packaging is all the craze in the pharmaceutical world. If you are a caregiver in charge of doling out meds to a loved one, these single or unit doses make it sooooo much easier to manage.

If your loved one has dementia, keep all medications locked away in a safe place.

4. What he had said was...

Old School Strategy

Bring a notebook and pen so you can keep notes on the information provided by the doctor for your personal review or to share with a family member or partner after the appointment. You can also use this to jot down recommendations that you can share later with other specialists or your Primary Care doctor. Collecting everyone’s opinions helps you later make your decision while considering everyone’s input.

It might help to also bring a pocket calendar to write notes on. This way you have a record of when your doctors made certain recommendations and if they are sticking to the plan you set out with in the beginning.

 

New School Strategy

Bring a recording device or a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) with a calendar. You can record your meetings for future reference, and you’ll also be able to schedule future appointments on the spot. You will want to let your doctor know and confirm that they are okay with recording your conversation.

5. Ask Your Pharmacist

Medication errors are a common cause of readmissions to hospitals, and sometimes these are caused by miscommunication. Many medications work differently in older people than in those who are younger. It’s important to have a complete explanation of why, how, how much, and when medications should be taken, and report to the doctor any side effects or reactions.

 

Old School Strategy

Pharmacists are good sources of information on drug interactions and side effects. You can go into your preferred pharmacy and ask to sit down with a pharmacist who will be only too happy to talk through medications. They are also available on the phone.

 

New School Strategy

No more having to drive to the drug store, you can quickly get some answers regarding medication mixing from plenty of online sources. Here’s a couple to get you started:

Just Answer – Pharmacy

Walgreens Pharmacy Chat

 

 

Point People Have All The Answers (Not really)

In truth, the best point people don’t have all the answers, but they certainly know where to find them. Organization is your best friend when it comes to managing your health.

 

How Ruby Can Help

By setting up your Circle you can get organized and stay ahead of the game. Whether it’s making sure you have all the documents you need, keeping an eye on finances, or keeping your family in the loop. Ruby is the smartest way to take care of someone you love.

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By Kristina James