These changes will not happen overnight, but doctors and health care systems are starting to respond. Some of your doctors might form an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), which is designed to help your doctors work together to give you a more coordinated, patient-centered experience.
If you have traditional Medicare and your doctor decides to coordinate care through this program, you will be notified, either in person or by mail. You can read more about Medicare ACOs on the medicare.gov website: Use the search box at the top to search for “ACOs” or for the “Medicare and You handbook.”
There are also things you can do to help your providers do a better job of coordinating your care. The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence has created a checklist you can use to prepare for your doctor appointments; it can be found online at www.partnershipforhealthcare.org/ documents/PrepareforDrAppt.pdf.
Bringing someone else with you to all of your doctor appointments can help you remember what you talked about during the appointment. Give your doctors a list of all the medications you are currently taking and of the different health care providers you see, even homeopathic or other nontraditional providers.
Note the last time you saw each provider or were hospitalized. And, if you ever feel that your care may not be as coor-dinated as it should be, bring up your concern with your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
Ron Pollack is executive director of Families USA.