How to Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

While healthcare in the United States is often the topic of a heated political debate, there is one subject within it that irks patients and healthcare practitioners alike: time.

One of the biggest problems with healthcare right now is the lack of time. Providers are finding their schedules limited while patients are having trouble booking enough face-to-face time with their clinicians to help address their issues. Although the lack of time was a problem well before the covid-19 pandemic arrived, the issue in the healthcare industry has compounded since the onset of the pandemic.

 

No Time to Talk

A patient survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation in 2017, found that only 11% of patients and 14% of physicians felt they had enough time to meet the standards of care. Shortage of face-to-face time is an obvious issue in the industry and has been for years.

Dr. Michael Sprintz, Founder and CEO of the Sprintz Center for Pain and Recovery compounded on this issue, “The biggest problem that we have as providers is that we don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough time to spend with you the way that we want to in order to talk about what’s going on and get all the information that we need and really listen.”

Economically, providers are having to see more patients per day to make revenue and ensure their employees get paid. In order to do this, many clinics are shrinking the amount of time allotted per patient so that they can see more patients throughout the day. According to Dr. Sprintz, this is an unpopular outcome, “…I know that the vast majority of providers, we hate this. It’s the reality of the healthcare system right now.”

The current economics of the healthcare system is forcing providers to add onto their already packed schedules. To make the most of the limited time patients have with their provider, patients must do more to advocate for their own healthcare.

 

Patience and the Main Point

Dr. Sprintz said the best solution is to clearly and directly state the root issue and reason for the visit. This is key to not only helping the clinician understand but also improving your own health.

Informing the provider of the main problem first not only respects the provider’s time but also yours.

Additionally, it is vital for patients to ensure the provider clearly understands the exact issue, says Dr. Sprintz. Getting on the same page by pausing and re-explaining if necessary, helps the provider fully understand the scope of the issue. “That allows the provider to explain to you what they believe is the problem that you came there for,” explained Dr. Sprintz. And at the end, saying a thank you to the provider certainly won’t hurt.

 

Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy can be a game-changer in driving the healthcare industry forward. You are your best advocate. By clearly explaining and advocating for yourself within the short amount of time allotted, you can improve your relationship with your doctor and improve your health. While time is an obvious issue, self-advocacy can help alleviate it.

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