You depend on your healthcare providers (HCP’s) to guide you in your health journey, especially if you’re struggling in a complicated area like weight. But what if your HCP isn’t offering you the concrete help you’re looking for? Are you left to navigate your health on your own?
You Can Lead the Charge.
As a patient, you have rights to the healthcare you want and deserve. At any point in your medical care, you should feel empowered to communicate what’s working effectively, what’s not, and how you’d like to change your care plan. That’s part of advocating for yourself.
If you feel like your HCP is going a great job at structuring your care plan to improve your health, let them know! Feedback helps your medical team make the right decisions for you in the future. But if you feel like your care plan isn’t working, or it’s not thorough enough to help you make informed decisions for your health outside of the office, let your HCP know that too.
Communicating with Your HCP
Your relationship with your HCP is an important one. The quality of your health depends on it, so you should work collaboratively to make the best decisions for your body.
Communicate Your Specific Goals
Detail is key. If you have specific goals for your health, give your HCP a list of what they are so you can work together to achieve them. For example: if you and your HCP agree that weight-loss is important, give them a ballpark figure of what you’d like to lose and what you hope to achieve in the process (i.e. alleviate chronic knee pain or improve fertility).
Ask All Kinds of Questions
So your HCP wants you to do X, Y, Z by “this date.” For example: lose 10 pounds in two months to qualify for a treatment option. Okay, how? Should you follow a recommended diet, increase exercise frequency, try a supplement or take a new medication? Don’t believe the often-told advice that you only have to eat less and move more. You deserve an individualized treatment plan that fits your health goals and lifestyle, so ask questions.
Give Candid Feedback
Tell your HCP what’s working and what’s not. Communicate how they can improve your care plan. If their bedside manner isn’t the greatest, be honest about your expectations. Your candid feedback will not only help you but other patients in their care. Some provider offices also offer patient surveys or feedback forms to improve healthcare for the whole office.
Make a Change in Your HCP
If you’ve done all of the above and you feel like your care plan could be vastly improved, don’t rule out making a change in your provider. Consider the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) Obesity Care Provider Locator to find providers with different specialties who are qualified in weight management. You can also search providers in your insurance network.
Seek the Help of Specialists
Finally, remember that some providers are limited in the kind of care they can provide. If that’s the case, consider finding a specialist to supplement your healthcare – a dietitian, exercise physiologist, OBGYN, endocrinologist, obesity specialist, counselor, etc.
Advocate for Yourself.
Above all else, remember that your healthcare experience should make you feel validated, listened to, supported and equipped at every stage in your health journey. If you feel anything less than that, you have a right to seek practical change in your care plan.