Take Charge of Your Health

Six ways to be­come your own ad­vo­cate—in the doc­tor’s of­fice and out.

Diabetic Living (USA) - - Contents - WRIT­ING SUNNY SEA GOLD

How to ad­vo­cate for the care that’s right for you

f you’ve been liv­ing with di­a­betes for a while, chances are you have a lot of prac­tice par­tic­i­pat­ing in your own health care. Some­times track­ing, check­ing, and man­ag­ing it all can feel like a full-time job. But here’s the good news: all that par­tic­i­pa­tion gets you closer to be­com­ing an “en­gaged pa­tient”—some­one who equips them­selves with in­for­ma­tion, asks ques­tions, and part­ners with sup­port­ive doc­tors to make bet­ter health de­ci­sions. And stud­ies show that en­gaged pa­tients have bet­ter health out­comes, save on costs, and feel less frus­trated and more sat­is­fied with the care they re­ceive, ex­plain­splains Danny Sands, M.D., co-founder of the So­ci­ety for Par­tic­i­pa­tory Medicine.

Dave deBronkart—a pa­tient ad­vo­cate and an­other co-founder of the So­ci­ety for Par­tic­i­pa­tory Medicine—is a prime ex­am­ple. Af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with stage 4 kid­ney can­cer in 2007 with an ex­pected sur­vival of less than six months, deBronkart saw a lead­ing on­col­o­gist, read ev­ery­thing he could about new treat­ments, and got ac­tive on pa­tient fo­rums. He had surgery and got into a clin­i­cal trial for im­munother­apy—and 10 years later, he’s still in re­mis­sion. “Part of how I helped save my own life, ac­cord­ing to my on­col­o­gist, was that I be­came an en­gaged, in­formed pa­tient,” he says. Seven years af­ter his can­cer di­ag­no­sis, deBronkart also beat pre­di­a­betes. He joined his lo­cal YMCA’s Di­a­betes Pre­ven­tion Pro­gram, started track­ing his ac­tiv­ity and food in­take us­ing MyFit­nessPal, and be­gan go­ing to the Y’s gym.

Nav­i­gat­ing the health care sys­tem can feel over­whelm­ing at times—es­pe­cially when you are man­ag­ing a chronic con­di­tion—but even small steps to­ward be­com­ing more en­gaged can help you get the most from your care.

Here are some key strate­gies to move you in that direc­tion.

PHOTO GETTY IMAGES IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS MIKE LOW­ERY

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