How to Advocate for Your Own Healthcare
At Doylestown Health, we consider you a valued member of our healthcare team. Our providers want to answer your questions and make sure that you understand all of the information about your care. We want you to be able to make informed, health-related decisions. We know that when our patients are actively involved in their own healthcare, there are improved outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.
Here are some ways that you can be a star player on your healthcare team:
- Write out any questions you might have before your visit. This way you can be sure to have your doctor answer them. Make sure you ask: What is my health issue? What do I need to do? Why do I need to do it? Feel free to bring a notepad to write down the answers.
- Ask your doctor for printed materials if you would like more information.
- Research your health conditions. Use credible sources, such as the CDC, NIH, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, etc.
- Keep a current health history. Bring it with you to doctor’s visits or to the hospital.
- Have an up-to-date list of your medicines on-hand to give to your healthcare provider.
- Understand your legal Patient Rights and Responsibilities before you go into the hospital.
- Prepare an Advance Directive. This legal document states your healthcare treatment and care choices in case there is a time you are not able to make your wishes known. It usually names the people you choose to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable.
- Designate a family member or friend as a support person. This person can be your advocate — not just if you are incapacitated, but also to help you absorb information and help you make healthcare decisions. It is a good idea for this person to have access to your Advance Directive, health history, and medicine list.
- Be aware of your copay and deductible.
How to Advocate for a Loved One
As a patient advocate, you help a friend or family member to manage their healthcare. Talk with your loved one about how they would like you to be involved. You may be involved in some or all aspects of their care and take part in decisions about care. You may go to doctor’s visits with them. They can give you access to their hospital medical records and portals and list you as a contact in their health profile. Encourage your loved one to have an Advanced Directive and know where they keep this document, as well as a current list of their medicines and health history.
We suggest, when able, that one support person be designated to relay a patient’s information to the rest of the family and friends, in order to streamline communication. Here are some more tips for effective communication with your loved one’s care team:
- Let the care team know that you have been asked by the patient to be their support person.
- Help the team get to know the patient. Do they have dementia or other cognitive issues? A preferred nickname? Any hearing, vision, or language barriers?
- Make sure the care team has your contact information.
- Tell the care team when you can visit. This will be helpful if they need to teach you any safety or care measures such as wound care, medicine, or physical therapy exercises.
- Ask if there is a good time to call for a routine check. Know what phone number to call.
- Contact a hospital advocate if you need further assistance over and above the care team and case manager.
Advocacy Services at Doylestown Hospital
We promote informed decision-making and education for all of our patients. We seek to empower families and to let you know that you have the right to information and a right to be able to speak to your care team. Here are ways that we support your advocacy efforts:
Case Management — 215.345.2360
A Case Manager is assigned to every patient. Our Case Managers coordinate with home care, skilled nursing facilities, and other community resources as needed to ensure that patients have a care plan after they leave Doylestown Hospital.
Hospital Patient Advocate — 215.345.2424
Helps with immediate problem-solving that exceeds a case manager’s role. Helps if there are communication issues with the care team or if a patient or caregiver feels that they are not getting the health information they need. Our Patient Advocate provides education and resources, empowers families to problem-solve for themselves, and will help interpret Patient’s Rights, if you need.
Patient and Family Education Coordinator — 215.345.2509
Drives the patient experience at the hospital through education. Leads our health literacy efforts and ensures that patient education materials are clear and easy to understand. Educates the staff to promote good patient-provider communication.
Patient Family Advisory Council
A group of community members and hospital staff. The Council is launching a new initiative for patient-centered care and advocacy. The goal is to provide support to those navigating healthcare for themselves or on behalf of another.
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.