10 Tips for a Better Medical Appointment

photo of female doc talking to female patient: 10 tips for a better medical appointmentIt goes without saying that your doctor impacts your health, as he/she works with you to identify and treat your ailments, as well as lead you towards a healthier lifestyle.  It is also true that the type of relationship you have with your doctor can directly affect the care you receive.  As with any relationship, a strained doctor-patient relationship can lead to frustration and misunderstandings. How can you have a great relationship with your doctor and get the best care? Follow our 10 tips for a better medical appointment.

Doctors are increasingly stressed and squeezed for time.  Insurance billing and overhead expenses require many doctors to spend only 15-20 minutes with each patient, which is often not enough time for patients with complicated medical histories or who present with tricky symptoms.

Additionally, many doctors are stressed from their interactions with, and the time demands of, Electronic Health Records (EHR).  Working with an EHR, although designed to streamline medical care, has a long way to go before it makes doctor’s lives easier. For more information, read Electronic Health Records Add to Doctors’ Stress and Doctors’ Stress Impacts Patients.

Follow these 10 tips for a better medical appointment:

These tips will help you keep your appointments, and your relationship with your doctor, as helpful as possible:

  1. Be compassionate. Doctors are people too and they work long hours at a demanding job. A little compassion from you goes a long way!
  2. Try to be patient and calm during appointments; realize that doctors feel stressed by their workloads and time pressures.
  3. Come to appointments prepared with questions, symptoms, concerns, etc.  Prioritize your health issues/complaints in order of severity and/or concern.
  4. Don’t wait until the end of the appointment to bring up a serious concern or issue.
  5. If you bring information you found on the Internet to an appointment, be open to a conversation and don’t insist that your information is more relevant than what your doctor has.
  6. Listen carefully and evaluate what your doctor is recommending. You have a right to refuse testing, treatments and/or medications, but don’t make rash decisions.
  7. Take detailed notes at all doctor appointments. Share the information with all members of your medical team at future appointments.
  8. Keep copies of all important documents (test results, etc.) together and organized, and bring them with you to all appointments.
  9. If something doesn’t seem right, speak up!
  10. If you hate waiting, try to schedule the first appointment of the day or the first appointment after the doctor’s lunch break.

Want to learn more?

For more tips on how to make the most out of every medical appointment, read these posts:


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