The school year is wrapping up, and many students will be receiving their report cards on how well they performed academically this year. While many will be full of smiles and pride, others may find themselves wishing they had put in more effort. While I am well past school days, there is still a report that continues to have me on edge each year… my annual wellness report.
Annual wellness reports are a rundown of how well you have done as it relates to your health, and a poor report can lead to unwanted consequences. I try to live well, but I still always find myself with fingers crossed as I anticipate if the “health grade” from my annual wellness report will reflect the days that I played hard vs worked hard. Just like school and studies, health is important to our personal success. Leveraging the tools below can help you become a star student and reduce the stress around your own “health grades.”
The only thing I dislike more than the disarrayed papers and school supplies stuffed into my son’s backpack are the disordered, expired, and unlabeled medication bottles of patients scattered throughout their homes, bags, and purses. Disorganized medications can have more dire consequences like adverse drug events.
The first step in getting organized is scheduling an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) where you can get your current medication list. The second step is called medication reconciliation. This is where your pharmacist steps in by using the most accurate medication list from your PCP, to identify unlabeled pills, counsel on medications that are being taken, and make recommendations on which of your old medications should be discarded. Now that you know exactly what you should be taking, your chances of taking an incorrect medication, and the number of expired and unlabeled medications lying around your house, are reduced. Seeing a clearer picture of your medication program allows you to communicate important information about the treatment to your PCP-. By the end of your visit with the pharmacist, you will feel like you are starting your first day of class with a new bookbag and a fresh set of school supplies.
Form a Study Group
The best study groups are the ones made up of determined individuals that are focused on the common goal: getting an A+. Your “A+” is reaching and maintaining optimal health and your “study group” is your health care team. Health care teams are an integral part of making sure your progress reports and annual wellness reports are improving or remaining top notch. They generally include your PCP, pharmacist, and any specialists who are involved in your health journey.
Thinking back to when I was in school, everyone coming together in one room usually made for better study sessions – that’s what happens with an integrated care model. Your pharmacists and PCP come together to discuss your care and communicate directly through a shared communication platform. Additionally, they access and utilize your electronic medical record (which your PCP updates at every visit), to make clinical recommendations. This model allows for more robust conversations about your care and has been shown to improve outcomes. The open dialogue between you and the members of your health care team is sure to have you on track to being a star student of health.
Do Your Homework
Your work doesn’t stop at your practice or the pharmacy counter. Now that you’ve organized your health records and prescriptions, become more knowledgeable on your health status, and found a great group/team to collaborate with you on your health, there are still opportunities to earn “extra credit” between appointments. Like homework, these additional tasks serve to reinforce what’s learned and discussed during your visits with your PCP and pharmacist. “Homework” may be eating healthier and exercising, which can lower LDL cholesterol by 7-20%. Or… given that chronic stress increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke, your extra assignment may mean taking time to meditate and destress. No matter what it is, homework is key in making sure you stay on track with your health goals.
While receiving a report card on your health can be daunting, it doesn’t have to be. It may seem unfair that a full year of work boils down to one report, but it’s really an opportunity. Each of us has ample time to work, make mistakes, correct, and improve. Every assignment, task, goal, or lifestyle improvement has the potential to raise your “health grade.” Be sure to stay on top of your responsibilities throughout the year to attain and maintain your clean report of health. Most importantly, don’t forget we are in this together. Reach out to your PCP or pharmacists any time you have concerns, questions or need additional support.