(Family Features) TV's Dr. Mehmet Oz is joining the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and government health agencies this month to launch Care About Your Care, a nationwide effort to increase awareness about what people can do to recognize and receive quality health care. In every community, both good and bad care is being delivered, but there are things anyone can do to improve their health and health care. Here are nine tips:
Talk with your doctor or nurse. Share your beliefs and preferences for care. Make a list of all the questions you want to ask. Bring the list to each appointment and write down the answers. If you don't understand, ask again until you do.
Don't go alone. Take a friend or family member along to medical appointments. They can listen, take notes and help you remember what was said.
Learn about the best treatments for your condition. For many conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease, clear standards for treatment exist. Become familiar with what works for your condition. Learning more will help you understand what your doctor might look for or recommend, help you follow those recommendations and assist you in identifying what questions to ask during your appointment.
Find and use information on the quality of care provided by local doctors and hospitals to make health care decisions. Use information in publicly available reports to make decisions about doctors and hospitals. Look for a doctor who appears to provide the care you want for you and your family and is willing to work with you to make decisions. Look for a hospital that is highly rated by consumer groups or other organizations and has experience treating your condition.
Have one doctor or nurse coordinate your care. With one doctor or nurse who knows about all of the care you're getting, you're more likely to get the care you need and not get care that might be duplicative or harmful.
Create a medication list. List all medications and supplements you currently take, including over the counter medicines, prescriptions, vitamins and herbal remedies. Bring this list with you to every doctor's appointment.
Ask your doctor or nurse if they use health information technology - or Electronic Medical Records - to track and share information with your other health care providers. Tracking information electronically means all the information about your health is available to all your doctors, every time, no matter where you are. This reduces errors and unnecessary tests.
Know the difference between more care and better care. Sometimes, getting more care can actually do harm or expose you to unnecessary risks. If you think you may be getting more care than you need, protect yourself by asking: How will this help me? What will we find out from this test?
Take responsibility for your health care. Learn about quality care. Talk with your doctor and follow their recommendations.
For more information and to get the tools you need to improve your health care visit www.CareAboutYourCare.org.