How Patients Can Help Coordinate Their Care
Your doctor should help you coordinate your care. This means knowing about the treatments or tests you get from specialists and any care you receive at other hospitals and doctors’ offices. Coordination of care helps make sure that you are getting the right care, at the right time, without errors.
Below are questions you can answer about experiences with your doctor. There are also lists of ways that patients can help make care better.
How often does your doctor seem informed and up-to-date about the care you receive from specialists?
When patients need certain types of care, they may go to specialists such as heart doctors, acupuncturists, chiropractors, herbalists, alternative health care practitioners, or other health care providers. Your primary care doctor should know about all the specialists that you see.
Here are some actions you can take to make sure your doctor is informed about the care you receive from specialists:
- Tell your doctor about all the specialists that you see. Discuss why you go and what happens in these visits. Also talk about any tests, treatments, or medications that specialists prescribe or suggest.
- Ask the specialists to contact your doctor. This helps avoid duplicate care, when patients get two or more of the same treatments or tests. It may also prevent problems when patients take two or more drugs that should not be used together.
- Request copies of all letters and reports that specialists send to your doctor.
When your doctor orders a blood test, X-ray, or other test, does someone from the office give you the results?
Doctors should tell patients about all their test results. This includes results from blood tests, x-rays, and other routine or special tests.
Here are some actions you can take to make sure your doctor’s office gives you test results:
- Ask the doctor when to expect your test results. Call the doctors’ office if you do not get results by that time.
- Find out how you will get the test results. This could be by phone, letter, or online with a secure patient portal (website).
- Be sure to learn about all your tests, even when results are normal. This helps doctors and patients make sure that no test results are missed.
- Ask for a written copy of your test results. Add this to the file you keep with your other health information.
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