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Self Care Sunday: Questions to ask your medical provider/professional.

Self Care Sundays are focused on helping you navigate the healthcare field by equipping you with information to help you make informed decisions. Health care providers have so much to juggle mentally and can sometimes deliver helpful but less than optimal care.

I truly believe that it is important to hold healthcare providers accountable to be sure you, the consumer, are receiving quality care.

On weeks 2 and 3 of Self Care Sunday live at Five, I discussed questions you can ask your healthcare provider (from a consumer perspective) to feel more confident in the provider you're working with. Today I'll cover my top three:

"How Long Have You Been Practicing?"

Although length of practice isn't always synonymous with skill and intellect, it can tell you how long the provider has been in the game. If your condition is more complex, you may prefer a more seasoned practitioner. When I graduated and started practicing, I dreaded this question and would feel as though my intellect was being questioned, but as I've grown in the profession I understand better how this question is appropriate for patients/clients to ask. Experience matters when dealing with complex cases. We don't know as much as we think we do once we finish school and I'm beyond grateful for my first manager. She took the initiative to screen cases/diagnosis and would allow me to see more complex cases as I became more competent and experienced. Evidence based practice includes consideration of multiples factors and practitioner's experience is one of them.

"How much experience do you have working with my condition and comorbidities?"

When you're working with a healthcare provider your medical history, medical diagnoses (comorbidities), access to resources, values and beliefs should be considered when delivering care. It's comforting and reassuring to know that your provider has dealt with your case in conjunction with your underlying medical conditions. Now, experience alone will not determine the outcome, but it should be considered. It should not be the sole determining factor in selecting a healthcare provider. You may be in a rural area and this may be the only provider you have access to. So, good follow up questions can be: Do you have access or a working relationship with other providers or mentors who have experience with my case? Are you up-to-date or have access to the best available research for my case?

"How will I be billed? (Time or fee for service)"

Healthcare is this weird area where sometimes you're not sure what you're being charged until you get a bill or explanation of benefits (EOB) in the mail. One way to keep healthcare costs manageable is to ask more questions. Get an understanding of how you're billed for services. Are charges based on time? Is there a fee for the type of service provided?

In physical therapy, especially where insurance is accepted, you're charged based on services provided during the session. The amount of services you're billed for are based on the time spent with the provider or in the clinic. These services may be priced differently at the discretion of the service provider. So, ask as many questions until you have complete understanding. This way, you can communicate what's financially reasonable without compromising the level of care received becoming more active in healthcare decisions.

This my free game.

Go forth, adapt army, and be active and/or proactive in your healthcare. You've got this!


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