For some a visit to their doctor is an annual occasion, a wellness checkup just to make sure everything is OK. For others the visits to the doctor are a little more frequent, in order to follow up after an illness or injury or maybe even to manage a chronic health problem. Whatever the reason for the visit though most doctors do keep their appointments as short and efficient as possible, to help ensure that every patient gets the care they need.
That does not mean that you should be rushed, or that you should feel that there is no time to bring up your concerns. It simply means that by being a little more prepared for each visit to your doctor you can really get the most out of it. Here are a few helpful tips to help you maximize the value of every visit, especially if you are meeting with a new doctor.
First Visit Basics
You have just chosen a new affordable medical aid plan and a new doctor comes along with that. In order for that first meeting with them to be a success and so that you can begin to forge that all important doctor/patient relationship a little preparation is called for:
Before Your Appointment
Check with the doctors office to see if you can fill out some of the required paperwork in advance. Many offices do now offer a number of downloadable, printable forms that you can then complete in the comfort of your own home, where all of the information you might need is right at your fingertips.
Make sure that you know as much about your own, and your family’s medical history as possible. Being able to give that information to the doctor and their staff right away will help make sure that you get the best care possible.
Make a list of all the medications you currently take, including any vitamin supplements or naturopathic medicines. Again, this will help ensure that you get the best possible care and that you are not prescribed any medication that might interact with those you already take.
If you are seeing the doctor for a specific health problem, rather than a simple checkup, and you have been treated for a similar problem in the past, if at all possible bring the records pertaining to that treatment to the appointment with you.
During the Appointment
Begin by telling the doctor about your main concerns, even if you are generally healthy. Even healthy people tend to have one or two nagging health worries at the back of their minds (Am I a little overweight? My family has a history of certain cancers, should I be getting any special tests?) Bring these up first, so that you and the doctor are on the same page about what may be troubling you most.
If you are seeing the doctor for a specific problem make sure you describe all of your symptoms as clearly as possible. Doctors are smart people, buy they are not psychics!
Bring a notepad with you and make notes as the appointment progresses. Even though you may be listening very carefully to all of the information and advice you are given the chances are that even the most attentive person will forget some of it. The notes will serve as a handy reminder.
You should also bring your medical aid plan’s formulary listing with you. This way, if you are given a new medication that is not covered by it you can ask the doctor right away if they can perhaps prescribe something similar that is right then, before the prescription written, potentially saving you hours of telephone time trying to get it changed at a later date.
Some feel that they should not really have to so much ‘prep’ just to see a new doctor, after all they are not being paid to do it and the doctor is. However, by taking an active role in your own care you’ll be doing even more to help protect your most valuable personal asset; your health.