Building Your Health-Care Team
You are the captain of your health-care ship. Working with doctors and other health-care providers to develop a personal pain management plan is critical. They help to guide your path, but you make the ultimate decisions. And your network of support can help you manage how your emotions affect your ability to manage your pain.
Building the right health-care team is a crucial step in managing your arthritis and your pain. As in any relationship, the doctor-patient dynamic is based on meeting needs and expectations on both sides. Take the time to evaluate your needs and what you expect from your doctor. Then go to the doctor with a clear idea of your expectations, and make them clear to your doctor. You may need to take notes with you to guide the discussion and help you communicate clearly.
In creating your team, you may need professionals with different kinds of expertise. There are many ways to find a health-care professional. Word-of-mouth is an excellent way to get a referral – ask your current doctors, family and friends. Your health insurer can also help you identify providers on your plan who are highly rated by patients. But remember, the best provider is nearly always in the eyes of the beholder, so you may need to visit a few to find the best fit for you.
Here are some tips for building your pain management team:
- Determine the best person to help you coordinate care with specialists. Is it the nurse at your rheumatologist’s office? Or maybe your primary care physician?
- Include specialists with different kinds of expertise. See this list and descriptions of the many providers who may be involved in your pain management.
- The guiding principles for decision making by the health-care team should be to manage your arthritis and pain with care individualized to your needs using evidence-based information and outcome-directed goals.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you aren’t comfortable with your care.
- Be sure to keep a record of your health-care team’s contact information – use a loose-leaf binder, a mobile phone app, or a web-based or printed health organizer or tracker.