10 Ways to Get Engaged in Your Care

This column is intended to help you take control and stay engaged in your cancer care. By participating in decisions about your care, you will be able to get the greatest benefit from the health services you need.
August 2015 Vol 1 No 4
Mandi L. Pratt-Chapman, PhD
Department of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Some patients like to make most of their healthcare decisions, and others prefer to rely on their doctors to make the big decisions for them. Whichever you prefer, having a conversation with your healthcare team about your concerns and the things that matter most to you is a critical part of making the right decisions for you.

Our healthcare system is changing every day. More demands are placed on patients, because there is increasing pressure on doctors to see more patients and provide more services to each patient.

Tell Your Doctor

So where do you start? How will you know if your doctor is right for you? How will you sort through the endless information available to you? How will you know you are doing the right things for your body, your family, and yourself?

We all need to learn how to tell if the information we receive is reliable, and we all benefit from voicing what is most important to us in our healthcare. If you do not tell your doctor, your treatment team cannot know what you will consider a success of your treatment.

For some patients, their biggest concern may be not going into bankruptcy as a result of cancer treatment. For others, it may be relief from symptoms that make it difficult to do their job or spend quality time with their family. Only you know what is most important to you.

10 Ways to Be Engaged

To get started, follow these 10 ways to be an engaged, prepared patient. We will explore how to apply specific actions in each of these areas to your daily life in future issues.

  1. Find safe, decent healthcare
  2. Communicate with your healthcare professionals
  3. Organize your healthcare
  4. Pay for your healthcare
  5. Make good treatment decisions
  6. Participate in your treatment
  7. Promote your own health
  8. Get preventive healthcare
  9. Plan for end-of-life care
  10. Seek health knowledge

We all need to learn how to tell if the information we receive is reliable, and we all benefit from voicing what is most important to us in our healthcare.

Your active participation in your health and your healthcare impacts the length and quality of your life.

So let’s get started and keep you on track!

What is one thing you can do today to promote your health?

For daily news on how to be a prepared patient, follow us on Twitter @PreparedPatient

Patient Resources

Center for Advancing Health

Center for Advancing Health Prepared Patient Blog

Harvard Medical School Patient Education Center

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Last modified: March 10, 2022

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