Art of Being a Successful Patient
First thing we need to define is: what is 'being a successful patient?
A patient’s primary aim is to get back to normal healthy life as soon as possible, or if not totally normal, at least an optimum health possible with the minimum of intervention. There are a lot of things that can be useful for you to get your healthy back, but certain factors play a key role. Just as certain skills make it more likely for a person to be successful in a career, basically there are four ingredients of the 'Skill' required to become a successful patient:
- Know Thy Doctor:
It's the first step towards health. You should know what your doctor knows, and also what he does not. You should be comfortable with him/her so that you can discuss freely about your illness, possible treatment options and follow-up questions. Selecting a doctor you are comfortable with increases drastically your chances of getting better soon, particularly for the chronic illnesses.
You should select a doctor who displays the following qualities:
- Is accessible and approachable.
- Is confident.
- Is ready to listen to you.
- Is ready to answer all your concerns.
- Is ready to admit what he does not know.
- Know Thy Illness:
Second part comes to know about your illness. Once you know what is exactly wrong with your health, it becomes easy for you to follow your doctor's instructions and do whatever you can to get back to normal. When you are diagnosed with some chronic illness, after your initial consultation with the doctor, you should note down and make a list of all the questions you have about your illness. You should also involve your family members who will be looking after your health in preparing this questionnaire.
You should know at least the following about your illness:
- What is the cause?
- What are the treatment options?
- Is the illness transmissible (can it spread to anyone around you)
- Is it curable?
- Do you need any lifestyle changes along with medicines?
- What is the prognosis (ultimate outcome of the illness)
- Know Thy Medicines (or treatments)
Once you know everything about your illness, next step comes to understand accurately your treatment options. You should discuss about the pros and cons of different options. You should involve your family members who will be looking after you in case this is a chronic illness.
If you are going to be on medicines know the following about your medicines:
- Side effects and interactions with food, drinks and other medicines.
- When to stop the medicine.
- When to get back to your doctor, if you have any other illness or you feel you are having a side effect.
- What alternate medicine you can take in case the prescribed medicine is not available.
- What investigations and lab tests you need to get done regularly while on the medicine.
- Know Thy Self:
Lastly the most important aspect is to know thy self. You should know if you are forgetful enough to take medicines regularly, then you will need to take help of your family member or have some notification method like using a mobile app. You should know if you can follow a strict diet regimen prescribed by the doctor, if you cannot you should inform your doctor in advance so that he can take that into consideration. If your disease requires lifestyle modifications, this aspect becomes more important.
Know at least the following about yourself:
- Your memory: Can you remember your treatment regimen
- Your flexibility: Can you change your lifestyle.
- Your perseverance: Can you adhere to the regimen for long terms.
- Your attitude: Do you have positive attitude to get better.
- Your faults: Do you understand if it was your faults that caused the illness (like food habits or lifestyle)