Be a savvy health care consumer

Be a savvy health care consumer

SYRACUSE, NY – Managing your health care, or the care of a loved one, can be overwhelming, especially if complex medical conditions are involved, or the list of providers and prescriptions is long. Here are easy ways to keep it all under control.

Get organized. “Create a health care binder with the names and contact information for your health insurer, each provider you see, and the pharmacy and lab you use,” says Dr. Nicholas Massa, vice president, medical affairs at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. He recommends a three-ring binder so you can add and remove pages. Pick one that is brightly colored, and label it clearly so it stands out from your other important documents. Include a calendar and extra pages so you can keep a running log of office visits and topics covered.

If you have a family member or trusted friend who assists with health care paperwork or transportation to appointments, show them your binder and explain your record keeping system. It’s good to have backup.

Get connected. Create a member login for your insurer’s website and download the mobile app if it has one. Establish accounts with each of your providers’ online patient portals. These tools provide easy two-way communication with your care team and allow you to receive email and text reminders about appointments, screenings, and even lab results. Store the usernames and passwords in your binder.

“Make sure your providers are connected with each other by consenting to HealtheConnections, Central New York’s secure clinical information exchange,” says Massa. “Ask your provider to supply you with the form.” HealtheConnections supports more than 12,000 physicians and millions of patients across 26 New York state counties in the Central, Northern, Southern Tier, and Hudson Valley regions, and surrounding states. Consenting allows your medical care team to securely share records across connected institutions and practices, making your patient information available wherever and whenever needed for your care.

Get support. Anyone, at any time, could need someone they trust to get involved in their care. Add a family member or friend to your caregiver team by signing HIPAA authorization forms allowing your providers to share information with them. “Having that extra set of ears will help ensure that you clearly understand your provider’s instructions,” says Massa. He also recommends patients select a health care agent to make decisions on their behalf if they are unable to speak for themselves. This is done by completing a health care proxy form, available from any health care provider. Keep a copy in your binder and share copies with family members.

“Managing your health care can be so much easier if you follow these simple suggestions,” encourages Massa. “You can do this!”

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