How to Make the Most of Your Next Doctor’s Visit – Following these tips can make your next appointment a more-productive one
Comments Off on How to Make the Most of Your Next Doctor’s Visit – Following these tips can make your next appointment a more-productive one
Few people look forward to a visit to the doctor. In fact, nearly 40 percent of Americans ages 18 to 75+ report not visiting a doctor in the last six months. And only 50 percent of Americans use preventive care at the recommended rate. Due to waiting room purgatory, rushed providers and those uncomfortable paper gowns, it’s easy to understand why many people avoid the doctor’s office.
But because routine preventive care can help save money in the long term and improve the outcome for chronic illnesses, there’s good reason to schedule an appointment for a physical or to have any nagging symptoms checked out.
With a little preparation and some expert strategies, a visit to your physician can be much more productive and far less frustrating.
1. Schedule Smart
Booking one of the first morning appointments or the first appointments after the office’s lunch break increases the odds you’ll spend less time waiting. That’s because as the day progresses, unexpected situations arise that can have a domino effect and put the office behind schedule.
2. Book Routine Exams Early in the Year
Book scheduled, non-urgent visits for routine physicals and exams as early in the year as possible. If you wait to have your annual exam in November or December, the doctor’s calendar will be packed with people trying to take advantage of meeting their deductible. This is prime time for overbooking, and the chances are high that you’ll have a longer wait.
3. Be on Time
There’s always a chance of a cancellation ahead of you. The office may also be running ahead of schedule—it happens. Don’t assume you’re going to have to wait. Do your best to arrive a few minutes ahead of your appointment to fill out paperwork and update your information so you can see your doctor quickly.
4. Don’t Spread Germs
Because the doctor’s office is packed with sick people, germs naturally follow. Avoid touching your face while you’re waiting, and use hand sanitizer when you arrive and after you sign out.
5. Make a List
Show up knowing what you want to discuss. Make a list and prioritize your questions in order of importance. Once your doctor starts asking you questions, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Even if your appointment is for an annual exam, have a clear idea of the reasons for your visit, and make sure to discuss your most important concerns first. Doctors have limited time to meet with you, so being organized and prepared will help ensure you get the most out of your appointment.
6. Describe Your Pain in Detail
Because pain is a condition your doctor can’t see, it’s up to you to paint a picture of how you feel. Use descriptive terms like stabbing, throbbing, aching, tingling, burning and pressure. Explain how severe it is, and how it impacts your life. Does it come and go, only flare with certain activity, feel persistent? Make sure to alert your doctor if the pain is new and rate the severity on a scale of one to 10. A detailed description will also help the doctor make notes in your chart, so you can evaluate how effective treatment has been when you follow up.
7. Bring a Friend or Family Member
Depending on the type of visit, having a trusted companion accompany you can help ensure you remember the doctor’s feedback. Plus, a spouse, grown child or friend can remind you of symptoms you may forget to list and ways the condition has impacted your daily life.
8. Prepare Your Answers
The doctor will need to ask you questions to pinpoint your problem. Often, patients expect their physician to make a diagnosis based on an initial description, but most likely, you will need to provide more information. Prepare to have a discussion to elaborate on your symptoms and concerns. The goal is to exchange information, so you’ll need to be forthcoming, specific and thorough.
9. Have an Open Mind
Doing research on possible conditions can be a double-edged sword. Although having an idea of what you think is wrong can help you share as much relevant information as possible, you may have overlooked some relevant symptoms. Trust that your doctor may have a different diagnosis than your Googling uncovered.
10. Repeat What You Hear
After your doctor has given you a treatment plan and listed the medications he or she is prescribing, repeat the directions to make sure you understand.
If your doctor is recommending a prescription for treatment, ask if you can receive a paper script instead of them sending it electronically to the pharmacy on file. This will give you the opportunity to compare prices and get coupons on sites like RetailMeNot Rx Saver to see which pharmacy has the prescription at the lowest price.