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Why You Should Become an Informed Healthcare Consumer

February 19, 2018

Think of the last time you bought a car. No doubt, you did some research. You may have first looked up safety ratings, determined what features you wanted, and figured out how much you could afford. Then, you may have looked at car dealerships online to see if they had the model you wanted, and at what price. Eventually, you went for a test drive, and if all went well, you may have driven away in your new baby.

You made an investment in the car, and to ensure you got a good value, you became an informed consumer. 

The same approach holds true when you are making an investment in your health: you need to become an informed healthcare consumer. 

As a healthcare consumer, the more informed you are, the more empowered you are as a member of your healthcare team. When you and your family understand a diagnosis and how you can take care of yourself, you can experience the best quality of life, which is our mission at Orlando Health. 

By getting credible and timely health information, reading and understanding this information, you can apply this knowledge to make better healthcare decisions. 

5 Steps to Becoming an Informed Healthcare Consumer 

1. The first step is getting information. The Consumer Health Librarian at Orlando Health’s Clifford E. Graese Community Health Library can be your starting point for figuring out how to sift through the mounds of information to find what is credible and understandable. 

Some sites may not be credible or may not present the most recent or medically accepted advice. For healthcare, it’s best to stick with a federal government or educational site. The URL for a government site will end in .gov, like the National Library of Medicine's website, and will end in .edu for an educational site, such as Harvard Medical School's website. Try to steer away from sites with ads—these may not be as credible. 

Other useful sites include:

2. Look in the Consumer Health section of the library's website for videos created specifically for patients.  

3. Know what medications you’ve been prescribed. Write them down or take a photo of the prescription bottle. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you have. As an informed consumer, make sure you’re clear on any side effects from the medicine, and share any side effects you’ve experienced. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific instructions on how to take the medicine. Should it be taken first thing in the morning or before bed? With food or on an empty stomach? These seemingly small details can make a difference in the effectiveness of the prescription. 

Also, be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about any supplements or herbal medicines you’re taking, since they may cause interactions with your prescriptions. 

The Benefits of Partnering with Orlando Health 

Orlando Health makes it easier to become an informed healthcare consumer. As the only hospital in central Florida with a Consumer Health Library, you have access to valuable information and support. 

The Consumer Health Librarian provides personalized assistance by email, phone and at our two locations. The main library is the McCormick building, directly across from Orlando Regional Medical Center, and the second facility, the MCRG Patient and Family Learning Center, is located in the Charles Lewis Pavilion at the UF Health Cancer Center - Orlando Health. At the library, you’ll find a variety of resources including books, pamphlets, audiovisual materials, magazines and personalized printouts from online sources. 

With the Library Care Outreach program, you can have access to information even if you aren’t in the library. The Consumer Health Librarian makes weekly rounds to patients undergoing chemotherapy and provides them with informational material. She also goes to waiting areas for chemotherapy and infusion therapy to meet and provide information to patients and their families. 

In addition to special events and information for caregivers throughout the year, the library also offers classes and lectures in multiple locations of Orlando Health that are open to the community. Current classes include “Researching Your Health,” “Health Literacy Connections” and “Communicating with Your Healthcare Team.” 

Investing in your health involves teamwork. Using the resources of Orlando Health, you can become an informed healthcare consumer and a confident, vital participant on your healthcare team.

Are you interested in learning more about our library resources and services?

The Clifford E. Graese Community Health Library offers patients and visitors a place to find health information and research assistance in a welcoming and comfortable environment. In addition to free brochures and booklets on a wide range of health topics, medical librarians will help patients find quality online resources that they can use to help them further understand a health condition, disease, drug or treatment.

Learn More Here