Taking Control of Your Health

Karl N

Karl Nieschburg, Health Navigator

While politicians and talking heads are debating the appropriate level of government involvement in our health care, we are missing out on another story that merits our attention.  Recent studies and common sense are in agreement: the single biggest factor influencing our health is our behavior.

According to a 2007 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, our behavior has four times more influence on our health outcomes than does our medical care.  The ability to make healthy decisions, to follow our medical provider’s recommendations, and to manage our chronic health conditions are the most important determinants of health.

Though this is not new, it is still news.  It is all too easy to focus on the barriers we face in taking care of ourselves.  The realities of everyday life can overwhelm any good intentions we have to exercise, to eat healthy, or to stop using tobacco.  Over time, these bad habits can take their toll.

Chronic diseases are lifelong health conditions, and include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, heart disease, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, etc.  Chronic health conditions are currently responsible for over seventy percent of our nation’s health costs.  They are also the leading cause of death and disability in our nation.  This problem is even more acute in Prowers County, where our citizens suffer higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.

The good news is that Prowers County is on the leading edge of innovation in providing support for people who want to prevent and/or better manage chronic conditions.  Southeast Health Group’s Health Navigators are dedicated to helping people just like you, who are interested in taking control of their health.

How can a Health Navigator help?  We do many things to empower our patients to take control of their health.  For instance, we help to coordinate care between different health care agencies, by helping to negotiate barriers, such as transportation.  Navigators can assist you in communicating more effectively with your provider to ensure that your concerns are being addressed.  We also help you with the goal setting process—the real key to health self-management.

For patients who have one or more chronic conditions, going to the doctor can be overwhelming.  By the time you have answered the dozens of questions involved in the check-in process, you may have forgotten what you wanted to ask the doctor.  Patient navigators have a tool to remedy this.

We offer a simple questionnaire that will provide all the information your doctor will need at your appointment.  This tool streamlines the check-in process, and ensures that your concerns will be addressed during the appointment.  By providing the big picture of your current health and by prioritizing the perceived urgency of your symptoms, this assessment forms a basis for better collaboration between your doctor and you.

The tool asks you to list:

  • Current medical diagnoses
  • Past Injuries and Illnesses
  • Past Medical Procedures
  • Current Medications (recent changes and feelings about)
  • Concerns
  • Symptoms (Circle your most urgent)
  • And other essential information

This tool has helped families and health care providers to coordinate care better, and achieve better health outcomes.

Do you sometimes feel like your health conditions control your life?  If you are ready to reclaim your life and reassert control over your health, then talk to a Health Navigator.  Health Navigators’ services are free of charge.  Call 719-336-0478 ext. 8 to start taking control of your health today!


Jeannie Larsen

Filed Under: communityHealth


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