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Be a Partner in Your Health Care

As a patient, it’s important to be able to discuss your health condition with your doctors, to understand their recommendations, and to make decisions together that can support your health. This page shares information to help you take an active role in your own health care, or that of a family member, in order to get the most from your doctor’s advice and to inform the doctor about safety and quality issues that are important to you.

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Three questions to ask your doctor

The “Ask Me 3” approach can help you get the information you need from your healthcare visits, so that you can decide together what’s best for your health. Every time you talk with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, use the Ask Me 3 questions to better understand your health:
  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?
Download the Ask Me 3 brochure

Patient decision aids

Patients and doctors can make better care decisions when patients understand their care options and the potential benefit or harm from them, and when doctors have a clear picture of what the patient wants. In situations with multiple options for care, patient decision aids can help give patients the kind of understanding they need in order to communicate their values and preferences for treatment.

Choosing Wisely—materials on a range of health topics, prepared by Consumer Reports to help patients and families discuss their care options with doctors.  Available in plain English and Spanish. HealthInsight is a campaign partner for this Oregon Medical Association project.

Effective Healthcare Program decision aids—materials from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality on bone health for women and on prostate cancer

Informed Medical Decisions Foundation—evidence-based information for a range of health conditions

Resources: Patient decision aids, doctor and hospital information, hospital ratings and comparisons—links compiled by the PBS Need to Know program

Speaking up for safety

Part of being a partner in your own health care is telling the provider if you have questions or concerns.
  • “Did you wash your hands?” Don’t feel shy about asking the doctor or nurse if they washed their hands before they examine you or provide care. Most likely, they have, but it never hurts to ask.
  • Speak up if something doesn’t seem right. Whether you are receiving care in the hospital or at home, don’t be shy about asking questions or stating concerns you have about the medication or treatment you are being given.

Avoiding a return to the hospital

Who isn’t ready to leave the hospital and get back to familiar surroundings? But too often, people find themselves back at the hospital within only a few weeks. Many of these return visits could be avoided through communication and a plan for ensuring ongoing care during a transition from the hospital to home or another care setting.

Here are some tools that may help you avoid a return trip to the hospital:

How to avoid being readmitted to the hospital (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; in English and Spanish)

Hospital discharge checklist and care transition plan (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; in English and Spanish)

Discharge planning checklist for patients and caregivers (Medicare)

Making your wishes known

The time to talk with your doctors and family about how you want your care to be managed if you are not able to make a decision for yourself is while you're still healthy and capable of making these decisions. Here are some tools to help you have the conversation and make a plan.

Start the conversation

The conversation you have with your family may feel awkward and even difficult, but it also can be very rewarding. These websites have resources to help you get the conversation going.

The Conversation Project

Start the Conversation (Vermont Assembly of Home Health and Hospice Agencies)

Learn about palliative care

Palliative care is medical care that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness, to help people live as well as possible. Palliative care does not mean hospice care, and receiving palliative care does not mean that a patient is at the end of life. The Get Palliative Care website can help you learn more about palliative care and locate providers in Oregon.

View the Get Palliative Care website

Learn about hospice care

Talk with your doctor

Your doctor can help you understand the range of choices and care options you may wish to consider and can document your wishes in a medical order called a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

Create an advance directive

An advance health care directive, sometimes called a "living will," is a set of written instructions to tell other people what actions you want taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. In the Oregon advance directive, you may also appoint a healthcare representative to make decisions for you.

Oregon advance directive information and form

Advance directive "frequently asked questions" (Oregon Health Decisions)

About these resources

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Neither HealthInsight nor its website provides medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for health conditions. Discuss any advice from the Internet with your physician.