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Tune Up Your Checkup: Making the Most of Health Care

Patients need to be their own advocates to maximize their health care. (click/morguefile)
Patients need to be their own advocates to maximize their health care. (click/morguefile)
March 29, 2017

MIDLAND, Mich. – With spring in the air and debate for now halted on the future of health insurance, many people in Michigan are scheduling health-care visits. Doctors say a little planning can help put you on the path to better health.

Whether you're seeing a doctor for the first time, for a regular checkup, or for a particular medical reason, he or she needs to know your medical history.

Midland-based family physician Dr. Jennifer Aloff says that includes any recent visits you've had to other providers, including specialists, urgent cares or emergency rooms.

"So patients assume because we have an electronic medical record that we automatically get all the information that another physician has in their electronic record, and unfortunately those systems just aren't that interoperable yet," she said.

Aloff recommends making a list with the correct spelling and current phone numbers for all providers, as well as all medications and their dosage, and bringing it to every appointment. She says while many new patients may be intimidated to discuss certain issues with their doctor, the only silly question is the one that doesn't get asked.

Many of the nearly two million people in the state who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion still are learning to navigate the complex health-care system.

Aloff says all patients need to remember to communicate clearly with the office staff about the reason for the visit so they can block out enough time with the doctor.

"Nowadays, people have such high deductibles and they are trying to limit their co-pays and limit their out-of-pocket costs, but sometimes they're undercutting the quality of the help we can provide them when they try and cram too much into one visit," she explained.

She adds that seeing a family physician instead of separate primary-care doctors for kids, adults and seniors can be a big time saver, and it also allows for a deeper relationship over the years that can help manage any specialty care needed.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI