Setting Personal Goals to Improve Your Health in 2020 and Beyond.
By Annie Kotto MD
The battle to reduce health disparities has to be fought in multiple ways to reduce disease burden in poor communities. Although healthcare innovations continue to be made, most people with limited finances in the United States still die from preventable diseases. Large organizations such as the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion set goals to improve the health of the public every decade. Their success or failure to meet the stated goals has always depended on access to sustained funding. As we enter a new decade, it makes sense to explore how on a personal level, each of us can make a positive change in our well-being by considering the following: The use of health information; relationship building; the use of medical services and lifestyle choices.
The use of health information: The current media landscape makes health information easily accessible. For example, most people can find definition of medical terms on goggle. In addition, there are free health magazines, video presentations on YouTube, talk shows and blogs that cover a myriad of health topics. The public is now able to come to a health professional with better knowledge than in previous years. Even people with limited literacy can get useful information through video demonstration. The information is also available in multiple languages. One needs to keep in mind that some information may be coming from questionable sources. While patients can educate themselves from these multiple sources of information, it is advisable that clarification is sought from a trusted professional for treatment and use of medical products.
Relationship building: Most people with health insurance coverage still fail to start and maintain a long-term relationship with a primary care provider. There are many challenges that people face in relationship building and health care is even more complicated as the health insurance companies limit patients’ choice. I feel strongly that it is still incumbent on each of us to invest in the time that it takes to find a trusted and compassionate physician. Maintaining that relationship that will allow for a mutual understanding and a development of a beneficial doctor-patient relationship. Keep in mind that good rapport and respect will make the relationship productive and long lasting. Family and friendship connections are also important in maintaining good emotional well-being. Physical health and emotional wellbeing are two sides of the same coin. Each one of us must strive to maintain both to keep the body and mind healthy.
Use of medical services: As healthcare consumers, we need to learn how to use the different parts of our healthcare system. The rising drug prices, surprise medical bills and expensive procedures cannot be avoided but can be managed. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 859,000 American lives were lost to heart disease and stroke in 2017. These chronic conditions could be better managed with early detection and regular clinical care. Individually, knowing the difference between urgent and life-threatening symptoms can help you decide if you need to call your physician first and when to go to the Urgent care or the Emergency Room. In the least, the medical services should be used to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or better manage chronic diseases and prevent them from developing into crippling health issues.
Lifestyle choices: As individuals, we have options that can help us improve our health. Avoiding or limiting the intake of certain foods, alcohol and hard drugs will greatly improve the health status of everybody. So is the adoption of an active lifestyle that includes regular exercise routines. This could be as simple as a thirty-minute brisk walk in the neighborhood. Exercise can greatly help prevent certain chronic diseases and help reduce obesity which can lead to other health problems.
To conclude, we as health consumers have many options to improve our health and wellbeing. The suggestions mentioned here, will go a long way in ensuring that we remain in good health. They start at the personal level but include knowledge, choices and developing a relationship with your primary healthcare provider. Committing to a long and healthy life is still within one’s control. These words spoken by Albert Einstein, still ring true today; “The world as we created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Annie Kotto MD
Pediatrician at Lifestages Pediatrics in Elkins Park, PA Co-founder of Village To village Care Inc.
Dr Kotto is a native of Cameroon. She received a Biology Degree from Hosfsta University in Hempstead, New York. She later moved to Pennsylvania and attended Temple University School of Medicine. She completed her specialty training in Pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Her clinical experience include the provision of general pediatric care to children and adolescents in various settings. She has worked in private practice as well as Emergency room and Pediatric Urgent Care. Her interests include preventive medicine and the care of acute and chronic diseases.
She is the co-founder of Village to Village Care, a global non-profit healthcare organization. She travels abroad to provide health services to the underserved populations. She enjoys reading, photography, and cooking. She is a mother to three children and currently own a pediatric private practice In Elkins Park, PA.