Building a quality relationship with your primary care provider goes both ways. Here are some tips to help you maximize your time and get the most out of your next visit to ensure you get the care you deserve.
Have you ever left your doctor’s office wishing you asked that lingering question? Did you suddenly remember one important thing you wanted to discuss with your doctor? Maybe you felt like there wasn’t enough time to talk about all the things you wanted to?
All of us have been in these situations with primary care providers. Once we leave the doctor’s office, it always seems like we just have one more thing we wanted to talk about. While providers work to provide you with high quality care, you as a patient also have the power to prepare beforehand to help make the most out of your time and relationship with your provider at each and every appointment.
To get the doctor’s visit you desire, preparation is therefore key to ensure that you and your provider are on the same page, and that you have the time to address any health concerns you have, both major or minor, at every visit.
For help in how best to prepare for your next appointment, check out some of the best practices we’ve compiled for our patients below. We believe in putting the power back in the hands of the patients, and preparing for your visit is one of the best ways to do that. Let’s jump into how to make the most of your doctor’s visit:
1. Make a List and Lead With the Important Stuff
Before your next visit, one of the most important things to prepare is a list of any questions, concerns or updates that you have for your provider. Take a few minutes to sit down and think about any symptoms you have been experiencing, any changes in your medication, diet or vitamin supplements and any new concerns you have since your last visit.
Next, prioritize this list in order of what you find is most important. Leading with your most important questions or concerns helps to maximize the quality of your visit by ensuring you can address these issues with your doctor directly. Together, you and your doctor can then tackle your questions and concerns in order to properly address all aspects of your health.
While discussing your concerns, try to be as clear as possible, especially when it comes to addressing any symptoms you have. Communicating clearly about your symptoms helps your doctor determine what could be bothering you. Try to notice when they occur and pay attention to certain times or situations that they may be bothering you. Like before, this is a great opportunity to ask questions, leading with the most important issues first.
Remember, when it comes to a doctor’s visit, you know your body best, and when you and your doctor have the same information, they can help you reach your health goals.
2. Bring and Review Relevant Health Information
Before your doctor’s visit, there is a list of things that you should bring to address with your provider. Whether it be new medication, understanding what your insurance covers or health history, here’s a list of things that you should bring to your next doctor’s appointment:
All your current medications
You should always bring your current medications, especially if it is your first visit with a new provider. This way, your doctor can best understand your health needs by recognizing what conditions you already have. Understanding what medications you use will give your provider a better picture of your health so they can best treat you.
Previous medical records
Like medications, previous medical records are essential in helping doctors understand your specific health needs. Providing previous medical records, which you can gain access to, allows your doctor to analyze your previous health complications so they can accurately address any current or recurring concerns or symptoms. In the case of repeated symptoms, it may be possible that you are experiencing something you previously had, and your medical records will help indicate this to your doctor.
Any recent scans, x-rays, etc.
Much like your medications and medical records, reports from scans and x-rays help tell the entire story of your overall health. They help both you and your doctor keep a record of your health. As mentioned before, it can be much easier for your doctor to diagnose you if they understand all of your previous medical experiences and/or complications.
Obtaining your x-rays, scans and other medical images is actually rather easy. Nowadays, many patients are able to view parts of their electronic health records (EHR) online, including reports from x-rays and other images. At Iora, we offer a similar system through Chirp, our collaborative care platform that makes it easier to navigate through our healthcare experience.
To learn more about Chirp, read our Live Better Blog to see how an electronic medical record can improve your healthcare.
3. Take notes
As mentioned before, you know your body best, and having the same information as your health care team can help you reach your health goals. For your next visit, make sure you pack pen and paper with the rest of your materials to take notes about your visit. Medical information can be complicated, to remember it best, be sure to jot down any and all important information related to the questions and concerns you bring up with your doctor or the next steps they plan with you.
Keeping a record of what was discussed with your doctor will make it easier for you both. This way, you can remember the proper steps you should take to address any concerns you may have about your health. Additionally, towards the end of your visit, you can also refer back to your notes to help address any further questions you may have for your doctor.
A study conducted by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that “40-80 percent of medical information provided by healthcare practitioners is forgotten immediately.” The study also notes that, “the greater the amount of information presented, the lower the proportion correctly recalled.”
For some seniors, remembering complicated medical information can be even more of a challenge.
With this in mind, taking notes at your next doctor’s appointment is a great idea. It allows you to stay actively engaged and involved in your health. If you would rather not take notes, it may help to bring someone with you who can.
4. Go with a family member, friend or caregiver
Attending a doctor’s appointment with a family member, friend or caregiver is always a good idea. With complicated health information, it can be difficult to hear or understand everything that your provider relays to you. With a caregiver, family or friend, they can be your eyes and ears for anything you might have missed.
Doctors’ appointments may often feel slightly uncomfortable, your company may even be able to ask questions or bring up concerns that you feel uncomfortable bringing up yourself.
Choosing the right person to bring with you to the doctor is just as important. You may want to avoid bringing someone who you know interrupts, or speaks over people when they talk. Instead, choose someone who understands their role in being there and is willing and able to fulfill that role.
Additionally, if you have to receive any treatment at your doctor’s appointment, it would be a great idea to bring someone with you. After certain treatments you may be unable to drive yourself home. A family member, caregiver or trusted friend would be able to get you to and from appointments. Some primary care facilities, like Iora, provide transportation for their patients.
The Appointment is Over, Now What?
After you have gone through your prioritized list of questions, presented your previous health information and taken quality notes, now is the time to follow up with your doctor. The end of an appointment is a great time to look over your notes and address any additional questions you have about your treatment, medication and next appointment.
Ask your doctor about their recommendations. This can range from a next visit to a specific date of treatment. When you leave, make sure you know what each of your next steps should be, and when you should expect to come back. They may not have an exact date, but you should have an idea of when you’ll be hearing from them again.
Great doctors team up with their patients in a way that other providers can’t match. At Iora, we do exactly that, and consistently provide our patients with the time they need to ask questions and treat symptoms so they continue to live their healthiest lives.
Finding a Medicare Physician that best supports your journey is essential for a great doctor’s visit. In coalition with your efforts, our physicians at Iora deliver top-of-the-line care all on a schedule that is rooted in our patients. Use these tips going forward to make the most out of your doctor’s visit at Iora or elsewhere.