Five Tips For A Good Doctor’s Visit
As most of you know, primary care physicians are in a constant race against the clock. Lower insurance reimbursements, high overhead and rising malpractice insurance costs have caused doctors nation-wide to crunch more and more patient encounters into every day. What does this mean for you? This means that you have less time to spend with your doctor. To get the most out of your doctor’s visit, follow these tips!
Bring Your Medication List
Bring a complete and up to date medication list to every appointment. If you stopped taking a medication or a specialist started a new one be sure to let your provider know. Also, check your medications before you leave to see if you need refills and indicate this on your list. This will help streamline the process for renewals at your visit, that way you are spending less time trying to remember what medications you do and don’t need. You can simply hand this list to the nurse at the beginning of your visit. Then, ask for an updated list before you leave since most offices have electronic records and can simply print this out for you.
Bring a List of Concerns
Speaking of lists, it is very easy to forget about the things that you are worried about. If you are talking about your diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension, it may be very easy to forget about that mole that started enlarging. Your list doesn’t have to be long, and if it is, it is best to prioritize the top three concerns for the day. Hand the complete list to your doctor so that he is aware of your other concerns but remember that if this list is long, you may need to schedule another appointment. The reason to have your doctor review the complete list is because sometimes patients don’t recognize symptoms that may be a priority. For example, a patient may create this list:
- Nausea since starting my new medication
- Low energy
- Left knee pain getting worse
- Sweating at night
- 15 pound weight loss! (without even changing my diet!)
While the patient is most bothered by the fatigue, nausea and knee pain there are other symptoms on this list that are worrisome. Unintentional weight loss, night sweats and fatigue can signal a serious problem and should not wait for another visit. Had you not asked your doctor to review this list, important information may have been missed.
Bring your insurance card and information about any new specialists that you have seen to every visit. Arrive on time so that you don’t miss out on any time with your doctor. Silence your cell phone to limit distractions. Also, many patients benefit from bringing a family member to an appointment for an extra set of ears to avoid missing important details. Don’t forget to fast if you are required to do so for blood work that day.
Bring Your Glucometer Readings
Bring your list of recent glucometer readings and be sure to discuss any difficulties you are having with your diet, medications or exercise efforts. Believe it or not, your doctor needs your home readings too to help make decisions about your medications!
Build a Good Relationship
Building a good relationship with your provider means that both the health care provider and you take the time to listen to each other. It is important for the patient to be honest about symptoms and to keep an open mind about potential problems. The provider must also be honest with the patient, address the patient’s concerns and individualize care. This is not possible without good communication from both parties.
For example, many patients adamantly refuse to start insulin injections for a variety of reasons. It is important to communicate why you may not want this medication and to allow your physician to explain why he is recommending it. This allows a chance to clear up misconceptions and to address fears. When a dialogue is opened up, it becomes possible to discuss alternatives or give you time to think about it before committing one way or the other.
Taking a few minutes to prepare for your visit and establish a good relationship with your physician is very important for keeping healthy. The more prepared that you are, the more effective your visit can be.