How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Appointments

Many people find doctor visits to be a stressful experience. Their blood pressure may skyrocket and they may have a tendency to forget all of the questions that they had before their appointment. This often leads to frustration and the sense that an expensive appointment was a waste of time and money. No one wants this to happen to them. 

This leaves the question: What steps can you take to ensure that you make the most of your doctor appointment? 

Therefore, we’ve come up with numerous recommendations and which you’ll find laid out below. 

#1 Have Moral Support with You

Often people go to doctor’s appointments alone, for a variety of reasons. For example, it may be difficult to coordinate appointment times with other family members and friends. Also, some people may be uncomfortable discussing very personal issues in front of other people. But, despite these reservations, it can be very helpful to have someone you trust with you. A trusted friend, a family member, and even a caregiver can help reassure you and ensure that you are as calm as possible during the appointment. Also, this person can take notes for you and prompt you to ask some of the important questions that you may have. 

#2 Be Prepared

You are the expert on your own body and how you feel at any point in time, therefore, you know the issues that concern you. Before your appointment, write down any questions that you might have and it may also be helpful to do research your symptoms. This does not mean that you are self-diagnosing. Instead, you are equipping yourself with information to ask informed questions and have a better understanding of what your doctor is talking about. 

Part of being prepared also means writing down all of your symptoms, so that you don’t forget any critical pieces of information during the appointment. For example, if you are visiting a GI specialist, it may be helpful to record in a notebook or tablet when you have experienced vomiting or diarrhea. You should also indicate if these episodes were linked to the food that you ate. 

#3 Be Honest and Transparent

The best way for your doctor to be able to help you is if he or she knows all of the details about your health and lifestyle. Part of being transparent is sharing all of your symptoms, even if you find some of these symptoms embarrassing or personal. Some people struggle to discuss different bodily functions. Remind yourself that your doctor is a well-trained professional and that your doctor is not judging you. He or she wants to help you to the best of his or her ability. Honesty also extends to providing truthful information about various lifestyle choices, particularly when they ask questions about your smoking or drinking history.  

#4 Full Information Also Involves Your Medication

Again, transparency and honesty are important so that your provider can give you the best possible care. Most doctors keep your medication list as part of your electronic medical record. But, if you are seeing a new doctor or if there have been changes in your medication list, make sure to bring an updated list with you to your appointment. This is important for various reasons. First, in some cases, the medication itself can cause troubling symptoms. If the doctor knows your medication list, he or she may be able to determine if your symptoms are linked to medication. Also, some drugs can badly interact with other drugs, causing a cavalcade of problems. 

To safely prescribe medication, a doctor needs to know what other medications you regularly take. In addition, it is important that you share more than just your prescription medication list. You also need to tell them about any over-the-counter medications and supplements that you may be taking.

#5 Leave With Information

It is important that you leave your appointment with information, preferably printed out information. This endnote or recap should provide you with an overview of the issues that you and your provider discussed. When possible, it should specifically outline the next steps in the treatment of your condition, such as suggested diagnostic labs or a follow-up appointment with a specialist. The summary should also offer information about any new medications that have been prescribed or changes in your existing medication list. This information can be very helpful when you get home. 

#6 And Finally, Be On Time 

Try to get to your appointment approximately 15 minutes before it is scheduled to start. This is important for several reasons. First, if you are rushing to get there, this will increase your stress level. A stressed patient is less likely to remember all of their questions and concerns. Second, doctors’ schedules for the day are often jam-packed with patients. Getting there on time shows that you respect your provider and his or her time. Also, if you are late, then the amount of time that you have for your appointment may be cut short, which may mean that you do not have time to raise all of your concerns. 

In Conclusion

Doctors’ appointments are undoubtedly stressful and this stress may be even higher if you are dealing with a serious health condition. Unfortunately, stress can get in the way of you getting the most out of your appointment and we know that’s not what you want. Therefore, by taking the steps that were highlighted above, you can maximize your appointments. And, ideally, this will help you be as healthy as you can possibly be. 

In addition, Community Home Health Care is here to help. We have Personal Care Aides and Home Care Aides that can drive you to and from your appointment. They can also accompany you throughout the appointment to write down information and ensure you ask your doctor questions about any concerns you have. If it’s an Aide that you’ve worked with for a while, they may even be able to chime in about changes they’ve noticed. If you’re looking for more information about home care, visit our website or call us at (845) 425-6555.