Informed and Involved: How to Navigate the Healthcare System
Industry Perspective Knowing the proper information and how to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals are invaluable skills that will save you much needed time and energy.
One of the most important things you can do to be the best caregiver possible is to make and maintain a comprehensive folder of relevant information about your loved one. This is what is known as a patient file. It does not matter if this is electronic or on paper, whatever works best for you. What is important is that you always know where to find it and have easy access to it. In case of emergency, you want to be able to grab it quickly. An outdated file will not be of use in the emergency room, so always remember to update the folder any time there is new information about the condition of your loved one.
A great patient file is comprised of four elements:
Care recipient’s medical history
This includes a diagnosis, health history, allergies and physician's contact information.
This includes all prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.
This includes private medical insurance, prescription plans, Medicare/Medicaid information, long-term care insurance, as well as dental and vision insurance.
This includes a living will, healthcare proxy, power of attorney for finances, and lawyer's contact information.
Efficiency is key
When your loved one is hospitalized, it is important to handle this stressful time effectively. As someone who has probably had their fill of hospitals, here are some things that you can do to make the stay as seamless as possible.
Remember to bring a copy of your loved one's patient file. This should be given to your healthcare professional upon your first visit, so that they can refer back to it, speeding the process up significantly.
Connect with other caregivers
"The right kind of communication with healthcare professionals will certainly make a difference in the care of your loved one. As a caregiver, you are an essential part of the healthcare team."
Get to know the nurses and the other healthcare professionals who are caring for your loved ones. Let them know that you are there both as your loved one's family caregiver and their advocate. Don't hesitate to ask them any questions or to give your concerns. Make sure that you give them all relevant contact information for yourself so they know how to reach you.
Finally, the right kind of communication with healthcare professionals will certainly make a difference in the care of your loved one. As a caregiver, you are an essential part of the healthcare team. Other members include nurses, pharmacists, and specialists.
As with any team, you need to communicate your needs clearly and effectively in order to get the best out of your teammates. The key ideas to keep in mind are to build a mutual understanding, encourage collaboration and participate actively.
Establish a good rapport, but be assertive in asking the important questions. They are professionals and as such, are a wealth of information. But as the caregiver, you have a wealth of information, too. After all, you know your loved one better than anyone else. Remember, the stronger the bond that is formed between you and your healthcare professionals, the more they will push to provide the best care possible for your family.