- Do your own research. For some of you this may be a chore you can delegate. For others, like me, you can’t help yourself –you just do it. I had one pain specialist tell me I was at the maximum dosage of Neurontin, and if it wasn’t working I needed to switch to another medication (one that had a tendency to make patients gain large amounts of weight!). I went into research overdrive and found a specialist in the same field who often gives his patients 50% more than I was taking with excellent results and no side effects. I switched doctors, upped the dosage, and had good results.
- Build an excellent relationship with your primary care doctor so that he/she comes to trust your judgment as much as you come to trust his/hers. It’s easier for your PCP to give you that referral you want (if your insurance requires it) if he/she knows you well enough to know that you don’t “cry wolf” and are smart and judicious about your health care needs.
- Doctors and researchers you talk to do not get reimbursed for the time they spend with you on the phone. Many of the specialists I sought out and “cold-called” on the phone were incredibly generous in sharing their wisdom and time with a stranger. I sent them flowers or made a donation to their favorite charity or sent a thank you note.
- Finally – as hard as it can be sometimes, try to be gracious and appreciative to your health care providers. They really want to help you. They’re on your side. They have their own frustrations with the systems they work in. Share your anger with your partner, not with the medical receptionist or the nurse or the doctor.
What strategies have you found helpful in getting the health care you want?
Here's a very good article about Heart Disease and Managing Your Own Care
And another excellent, detailed article on Arthritis and How To Talk to Doctors