When you are living with psoriatic disease, it is important to take an active role in your health care.
One of the best ways to do this is learning how to communicate effectively with your providers so you can maximize your time in their office. Preparing for your appointments in advance will ensure that all of your questions are answered and that you are getting the best care possible.
As a Patient Navigator at NPF's Patient Navigation Center, I help people living with psoriatic disease prepare for appointments. Here are five tips I tell my patients:
1. Make sure your provider has access to all of your past health information
To get the best care, your health care provider needs to understand your unique medical history. This includes medical records from other health care providers you’ve seen and information about any medicines you are taking.
If you don’t have access to your medical records, start by contacting the last health care provider you saw and requesting this information. Their office will be able to send your records directly to your current provider.
Understanding your past and current medical history will enable your provider to move forward with the best treatment plan for you.
2. Learn as much as you can about your disease
When it comes to getting the best health care, knowledge is power! Make sure you know your exact diagnoses, what medicines you are currently taking, and do some research about the treatment options available for your specific condition.
Organize and summarize this information before any appointment so that you can answer the questions your providers may ask you. By understanding the specifics of your psoriatic disease, you will be able to best advocate for yourself.
3. Keep a journal of your symptoms
When you get to your appointment, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms. You will be asked if your symptoms have improved or worsened, and you will be told to describe any new symptoms you may be experiencing.
Since it can be difficult to remember how you feel day-by-day, keep a record of this information. Include details such as the time of day you noticed a change in symptoms, activities that occurred prior to your change in symptoms and any food or medicine you consumed prior to these changes.
Keeping a journal will not only help you talk to your provider, but it can also help identify factors that may be affecting your condition.
4. Prepare a list of questions
It’s a known fact: Health care providers have a very limited amount of time to spend with their patients.
To make the most from this time, prepare for each appointment by writing down a list of items you would like to discuss with your provider. Organize your list by priority and keep focused on these questions.
If you run out of time, ask your provider how to follow up with their office and figure out the key point of contact, who may be a nurse or office assistant.
You can also ask for a longer follow-up appointment, and you may be able to request written or printed notes from your provider.
5. Get help
Preparing for an appointment with your health care provider can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Request a free Appointment Prep Kit so you can make the most of your time with your provider.
For support, talk to a friend, family member or contact NPF’s Patient Navigation Center. We can help educate you about psoriatic disease, brainstorm key questions for your provider and support you throughout your journey.
Ashley Lindberg is a Patient Navigator at NPF’s Patient Navigation Center, the world’s first, personalized support center for psoriatic disease. With a background in social services, she specializes in assisting low-income and uninsured individuals receive health care and locate community resources.
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.