Health Literacy and Ask Me 3
For any person who’s ever been to the doctor, you’ve had this moment: The office door just closed behind you and you realize you either don’t understand what you were just told, or you didn’t get an answer about something that’s been bothering you. It can feel scary. It can feel frustrating. When it took all you had to get to that appointment – what do you do now?
That’s just the kind of thing I’m interested in exploring here on the Amazing Healthcare Consultants Blog. My name is Kate. I’m not a doctor, and I’m not a healthcare professional. However, I do have a background in health information publishing and health literacy, and I truly believe that information is power. I am passionate about how our bodies work (they’re amazing!), the mind/body connection, and, since I became a mom, pretty much anything having to do with my kids’ and my family’s health and wellness. I’m going to be contributing some posts here on health-related topics that move me, sharing information I think is important. I hope you’ll find some useful information here, and that you visit us often.
So, back to that familiar scenario…what are your options?
First, I think it’s important to know that you, as the patient, have the right to ask your doctor questions. If that’s not something you’re used to doing, or that idea is new to you, consider asking your doctor these three questions at your next appointment:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
These questions are the basis of the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Ask Me 3 campaign to educate patients on their right to understand their own health, and to ask their doctor for the information to do so. You can improve your health by becoming an active member of your health care team!
Second, take the time to take notes during your appointment in whatever way works best for you. If you’re managing a chronic illness, invest in a bound notebook or a binder so that you can keep all your notes and other information together. If you want your information always at your fingertips and have a smart phone, capture it there.
Finally, while you’re asking those questions and taking your notes, don’t be afraid to ask for something to be explained in a different way. Doctors have technical expertise, and sometimes they use technical words. It’s ok to ask them to spell out something for you, or to ask for a definition.
Keeping these tips in mind won’t eliminate those moments of confusion or frustration, but hopefully they’ll make them more rare. And when they do happen, you can call with your question or, increasingly, email it, to get that last bit of clarity.