Certainly, your doctor impacts your health, as he/she works with you to identify and treat your ailments. Additionally, your doctor can lead you towards a healthier lifestyle. Needless to say, the quality of your appointments can impact your health care. But how can you have a great relationship with your doctor and get the best care? Follow our 10 tips for a better medical appointment.
Why is it important to follow my tips for better medical appointments?
For starters, doctors are increasingly stressed and squeezed for time. For instance, insurance billing and overhead expenses require many doctors to spend only 15-20 minutes with each patient. Unfortunately, this is often not enough time for patients with complicated medical histories or who present with tricky symptoms. By preparing for your appointments and having a strategy for how to use the limited time effectively, you can get the most out of every medical appointment.
Similarly, planning what you want to discuss before you arrive will help you communicate as effectively as possible with your doctor. Importantly, communicating effectively communicate with your doctors helps you make more appropriate medical decisions and have better health outcomes.
Prepare for appointments!
To get the most out of medical appointments, prepare yourself ahead of time. Firstly, write down everything you want to discuss. I recommend you keep an ongoing journal of questions, concerns, symptoms, medications taken, and any other pertinent information.
Your notes will avoid reliance on potentially faulty memories when describing your health to your doctor. Therefore, write down as many details as possible. Importantly, you never know what details will make it easier for your doctor to diagnose and treat you.
List of questions and concerns.
Write down everything you want to discuss with your doctor. Then put them in order of priority so you can make sure you have time to get to your most important questions.
For instance, if you’ve been experiencing symptoms, write down as many details as possible, including frequency:
- When did they first appear?
- How long do they last?
- How often do they appear?
Additionally, write down what you’re doing each time your symptoms start: For example, were you eating? Working? Exercising? Sitting? Driving?
And note the severity of your symptoms and how they impact your life:
- How severe are the symptoms?
- Do they interfere with your day-to-day life?
- Does anything help relieve the symptoms? Does anything make them worse?
Finally, make sure you have an up-to-date medication list to share with the doctor, including over-the-counter medications and supplements. If you are not taking a particular prescribed medication for any reason, make a note of that.
And if you have medications that you take “as needed”, keep a journal of when you take these and the symptoms that led you to take them each time. Lastly, if you use recreational drugs, write that down as well.
ZaggoCare can help!
Of course, the ZaggoCare System makes it easy for you to prepare for appointments. Our notebook makes it easy to keep all your notes and questions in one place. And our accordion file makes it easy to keep all your healthcare documents organized and handy. Moreover, our ZaggoCare Guide helps you identify which questions to ask your doctor at every step of your journey.
Buy one today for yourself or a loved one. You’ll make it easier to manage a serious illness while supporting pediatric brain tumor research.
Bring someone with you.
Whenever possible, bring a trusted adult with you to medical appointments. This friend or family member can help take notes for you, and help you think of questions to ask. Additionally, a second set of ears is always a good idea, since you each might interpret information differently. And, importantly, your friend or family member can provide emotional support, which is often much needed when dealing with a serious medical condition.
10 tips for a better medical appointment.
These tips will help you get the most out of every medical appointment, which will help you get the best care and outcome possible:
- Refer to your prepared list of questions and concerns, prioritizing your health issues/complaints in order of severity and/or concern. If your doctor interrupts you, pick up where you left off. And don’t wait until the end of the appointment to bring up a serious concern or issue.
- Be honest with your doctor. Although some topics can seem embarrassing, your doctor is a medical professional with has “seen it all” and is required by law to maintain your privacy.
- Take detailed notes at all doctor appointments. Also, consider recording appointments with your phone – but ask your doctor first. Share the information with all members of your medical team at future appointments.
- If you don’t understand what your doctor tells you, ask him/her to repeat the information and/or explain it in another way. If needed, ask for a language interpreter.
- When your doctor gives you a diagnosis, ask what led to this decision. Ask if testing will confirm the diagnosis. And ask if other conditions could be responsible for your symptoms. For more information, read 10 Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Diagnostic Error.
- Listen carefully to recommendations for testing and treatments. Ask about pros and cons. Work with your doctor to make decisions together. And realize you have a right to refuse testing, treatments and/or medications, but don’t make rash decisions. For more information, read The Importance of Shared Decision Making.
- Keep copies of all important documents (test results, etc.) together and organized, and bring them with you to all appointments.
- If something doesn’t seem right, speak up!
- 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.
- Be patient and calm during appointments.
The time after appointments is also important.
Taking the necessary follow-up steps can be just as important as the appointment itself.
Firstly, make any recommended appointments with specialists and/or for testing.
Additionally, if your symptoms change, or you think of more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.
Importantly, follow up on test results! Never assume that “no news is good news”. Unfortunately, test results, even critical ones, fall through the cracks. So, ask your doctor when the results will be available, mark your calendar, and follow up if you don’t get your results.
Furthermore, once you receive your test results, ask your doctor (in person, by phone, or by email) if the results confirm the initial diagnosis or possibly indicate a different diagnosis. For more information, read What You Need to Know About Medical Tests.
Want to learn more?
Because your health can rely on it, read these posts for more tips on how to make the most out of every medical appointment:
- Why are Doctor-Patient Relationships Vital?
- Understanding Medical Information Is Harder Than Most Realize.
- Why Take Detailed Notes at Doctor Appointments?
- Should You Record Medical Appointments?
- 10 Tips to Communicate Better with Doctors.
- What is the Best Time of Day for Medical Care?
- How Can You Get the Best Healthcare? Actively Participate!