Managing Your Health: Six Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Going to a doctor’s appointment can seem like a daunting task— especially if you are not feeling well or dealing with multiple medications. At times, you might feel so overwhelmed during the appointment that you forget to ask certain questions or don’t feel comfortable telling the provider that you don’t understand something. According to a research review in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, older patients may forget up to 80 percent of what a provider told them once they leave the appointment.

Preparing in advance for your appointment can help Doctor speaking with patient.Six tips to get the most out of your next doctor's appointment. you get the most out of the time with your provider. Follow these six steps to take control of your health care.

1. What Are Your Goals for the Appointment?

Determine what type of appointment you are scheduling with your provider. Is this an annual wellness exam, a follow-up, or are you under the weather and seeking a diagnosis? If you are meeting with your provider for a follow-up appointment, bring your current treatment plan and a list of any possible changes you might like to discuss.

2. Prepare for the Appointment

Preparing everything in advance can help you organize both physically and mentally before your appointment. The night before, collect your insurance information, current medications, identification, patient forms, and emergency contact list, so you don’t forget to grab them on the way out the door.

If you are having an appointment for a medical issue, make a list of all the symptoms you are experiencing and include a time frame for each one. You can use the medical mnemonic (O)-P-Q-R-S-T as a guide:

  • Onset When did it start?
  • Provocation – What makes the pain better or worse?
  • Quality – What does it feel like?
  • Radiation Does it move anywhere?
  • Severity How bad is it? How much does it affect you?
  • Timing When did it start? How long does it last? 

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Your healthcare provider might use a medical term or explain a diagnosis that you are not familiar with. If there is ever a time during your appointment that you do not completely understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your provider wants you to succeed at taking control of your health. Remember, there are no dumb questions Ask your provider to write an appointment summary for you to look back at later. when it comes to your well-being!

4. Take Notes

Sometimes it may feel like a lot of information is being thrown at you all at once. It can be hard to remember it all once you leave the appointment. Taking notes is an excellent way to make sure you retain all of the correct information and instructions. If you feel you might not be able to write down everything yourself, ask the doctor to give you a printed summary of your visit or medication information.  Lastly, you could ask to record the conversation on your smartphone so you can go back to it later.

5. Bring a Friend or Family Member

You know how the saying goes— two heads are better than one. In this case, four ears can be better than two! Having a trusted friend or family member in the appointment with you can help keep track of all the information. As mentioned in the previous tip, you could entrust them to record all of the information so you can focus on asking questions.

6. Get a Recap

Before leaving, ask the provider to quickly summarize all of the instructions and new medications that had been discussed during the appointment.  Most doctors should be able to give you a printed visit summary of the visit to make this easy on you!  Having a hard copy reference of your visit will allow you to look back on it at a later date. Finally, make sure you know how to contact the doctor’s office if in case you have any additional questions. Ask them to write down the next date of your appointment and additional information you might need such as prescriptions.

In Need of a Primary Care Physician – We’ve Got You Covered!

Firelands Physician Group has 17 primary care physicians, specializing in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, located throughout Erie, Ottawa, Sandusky and Huron County. If you do not have a PCP, simply call (419) 557-5591 and talk to one our friendly staff members who can help find a doctor near you. Further information can be found on the Firelands Physician Group website where you can search for a provider and even schedule an appointment online with a couple of clicks!  What are you waiting for? Schedule your visit today!