Have you ever left a doctor’s visit confused, unclear, and realizing you forgot to ask a couple of questions? I feel your frustration! Few things are as frustrating as waiting for 2 hours only to get 15-30 minutes of facetime with your provider, and then realizing later that you forgot to ask something. Here are my insider tips to getting the most out of every appointment, and how to foster a great doctor/patient relationship:
1. Organize your records. Personally I keep a copy of all my medical records in a binder at home. If you are interested in organizing your records, but have no clue where to start you can check out my blog post on it!
2. Schedule your appointments as far in advance as possible. This ensures that you have your pick of appointment times, and can choose the time of day that is best for you. You can plan around symptoms like fatigue, work, or when you can get a ride to and from the appointment.
3. Keep a list of questions that pop into your head, and bring it with you. Then don’t leave the appointment until you feel confident that your questions were answered.
4. Tell your doctor every symptom that you have been having, even if you don’t think it’s relevant information
5. Bring someone with you, and take notes. Preferably have your buddy take notes so that you can focus your full attention on the visit.
6. Communication is key! You and your doctor are in a committed relationship, and you have to communicate like it. Listen to each other, don’t interrupt one another, and vocalize any concerns that you may have. Get to know one another, chances are you are you will be stuck with each other for a very long time!
7. Make sure you are clear on what your provider expects you to do after the visit. If any lab work or tests are ordered have a who, what, when, where, why, and how plan for everything.
-Who is going to take you to the test if you can’t drive yourself?
-What is the test? What does your provider hope to gain from it? What do you need to do to prepare for it?
-When do you have to have it done by?
-Where does the test have to be done?
-Why is the test being done?
-How is the test done? How do you schedule it?
8. Don’t be shy! We want to know about your emotional well being, and it is especially important to tell us about all your symptoms. The symptoms that affect our daily lives the most can sometimes be the most embarrassing ones to talk about (such as bowel, bladder, or sexual dysfunction). We have ways that we can help- but we aren’t mind readers, you have to tell us about them!
9. You know your body best because you live with it every day. You know better then anyone else when something isn’t right, so don’t hesitate to tell us if you think we aren’t responding appropriately to your concerns.
10. Ask about resources such as social workers, community programs, and specialists. There are so many great programs out there that people don’t take advantage of because they never know about them.