As many Coloradans begin using their health insurance, now is the time to become an informed, engaged patient ready to make smart health care decisions, says Think About It Colorado (TAIC), a nonprofit public awareness program. In particular, thousands of Coloradans, who for the first time have medical coverage and a primary care physician, may need help creating a safe health care experience.
“Doctors’ appointments can be intimidating, especially if you’re not used to going to the doctor,” said patient safety expert Donna Kusuda. “Education is key to building up one’s comfort level.”
TAIC encourages all patients to follow these “Five Steps to Safer Health Care:”
Prepare: Know which questions you want to ask and bring to your appointment a list of all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medication.
Speak up: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and express your concerns during your visit. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up, ask a friend or relative to come with you as your advocate.
Know your options: Make sure you understand why diagnostic tests, including lab work, have been ordered. If you have concerns about a procedure, ask if there are other options.
Understand: Know what your treatment will involve, what will be done and what to expect.
Follow up: Contact your doctor’s office if you have questions after an appointment, or if you don’t hear back on test results. Don’t assume that no news is good news.
Patients who take an active role in their health care are their own best advocates and can help ensure safer health care. These simple steps and other resources offer the framework to help you get started. For more tips, visit www.ThinkAboutItColorado.org.
Think About It Colorado is a nonprofit public awareness program that focuses on the need and opportunities for safer health care by engaging providers and consumers in advancing a culture of patient safety. Think About It Colorado encourages and enables Coloradans to “Team up for safer health care,” and provides education, information and resources to help consumers and providers accomplish this goal. For more information, go to www.thinkaboutitcolorado.org.