Get the most from your doctor visits
Did you know doctors can have up to 2,000 patients under their care? That’s a lot to keep track of for any human being.
Rather than assuming your doctor will think of everything, it pays to drive your own care. Successful patients work with their doctors as partners in their health care.
We’ve seen successful patients do some creative things to take ownership of their care. See if any of these can improve your trips to the doctor.
Note: In light of the novel coronavirus, be sure to check with your doctor’s office on the best way to seek care—whether for flu-like symptoms or another concern. At PacMed, we offer virtual visits and tools specific to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Keep track of symptoms or questions you have. Note the date, time and situation where symptoms show up. Take pictures if needed, and note temperatures or pain levels.
Use a notepad or an app like Evernote to record everything, including your medications. If something seems urgent, use this information when calling your clinic or nurse helpline to see if you should make an appointment, go to an urgent care clinic or visit the emergency room.
As you prepare to see the doctor, organize your most important questions at the top of your list. Tell your scheduler or care team what you want to discuss. This will help them schedule the right type of appointment so you have enough time.
Bring two typed copies of your questions to your appointment. Give the first to your MA or nurse when they show you to the exam room. Ask them to give it to the doctor, to help them get oriented before coming in to see you.
The other copy is for you to consult during your appointment. Go down the list, making sure to cover all your items. Take notes there too, since it’s hard to remember everything. You can invite a friend or family member along to help if needed.
After your visit, you may have specialist visits, tests or follow-ups to schedule. Make these before you leave the clinic, while it’s fresh in your mind.
Ask how long test results will take and set a reminder to check MyChart. Message your doctor if you need help understanding results when they come in and to find out follow-up steps to take.
Navigating the medical system can be complicated. Taking ownership of your doctor visits is one thing you can do to have a better experience—and better health outcomes.
Let us know if these tips helped you at StayHealthy@pacmed.org.