Information can be a powerful tool when it comes to health and well being. Patients or 'consumers' are becoming more actively involved in their own healthcare by looking for information themselves and by making more decisions about their own health.
Health information can help you when:
- You've just been diagnosed with a condition or illness
- You need information on treatments or medical procedures
- You want information about someone close to you who has a condition or illness
- You are looking to maintain and improve your health
Getting the right health information can be difficult when you don't know what you are looking for and don't know where to go.
Getting the right health information can be difficult when you don't know what you are looking for and don't know where to go
Some people go to their doctor or ask families and friends, however some people will search the Internet to try and find the information themselves. Information is available in many places, but how do you know if it is up to date and reliable?
Care must be taken when searching for and using information. Some tips are:
- Make sure it's from a reliable source
- Check the date to make sure it has been produced recently
- Does it help you to make decisions about your health?
- Is it easy to read and understand?
- Is it in the right format for you? (leaflet, CD, tape or braille)
Health Information is most useful when it's available at the time you have to make decisions or look at different options for your healthcare. The more accurate, reliable and up-to-date information you have, the better able you are to make the right decisions for you.
Get the most from your healthcare
To make the most out of a visit to your doctor, hospital or clinic, there are some simple things you can do and questions you can ask which will help you get the right information:
- It may sound obvious but write down any questions or concerns you have before going, that way you won't forget any of those important questions you wanted to discuss
- Providing the health professional doesn't mind, you can take a friend or relative in with you so they can ask questions and listen too
- Ask the most important questions first and write down the main points as you go along
- Be sure that you tell them any medication you are on and the amount you take, even if they are herbal/complementary therapy or vitamins. If you feel it will help, write the name, dose and strength down before your visit
- Ask if you don't understand any terms or jargon. If necessary ask the health professional to write them down so you can look them up when you leave
- If you are going to be referred for a hospital appointment, ask how long it is likely to take
- If English is not your first language, or if you are hard of hearing or partially sighted, ask if they have any information in your preferred language or format
- Ask if there are any support groups you could contact for more advice