Tried and True Ways To Make The Most of Your Doctor’s Visit
Did your mother ever tell you to "Speak up for yourself?" Well, she was definitely on to something. And it's especially important to take her advice in today's healthcare environment.
With tight schedules and the demands of daily life working against both you and your healthcare provider, it's important to make the most of your appointment from the start. This means taking charge of your healthcare with a few tried and true strategies that even your mother would approve of:
Before your appointment, get organized:
- Plan ahead. What are your most important questions and concerns?
- Write down your questions, and take your list with you. Keep it focused and short, with your most important concerns at the top.
- Review your medications, and bring them with you.
- Consider how you're feeling now and in the recent past and the reason for your appointment. Be ready to discuss symptoms, medication side effects or other details that can help inform your healthcare provider.
During your appointment, participate:
- If it is difficult for any reason for you to be an active participant during your office visit, bring an advocate - a family member or friend who can take notes or ask questions.
- Share information about life events, lifestyle habits or other details, as appropriate.
- Ask your physician, nurse practitioner, medical assistant or any other healthcare provider to explain terms or anything else you don't understand during your appointment. If you have questions after your appointment, call your doctor's office or send a question through MyChart.
- Don't hesitate to ask for a second explanation if the first one didn't make sense.
- Take notes. Ask your healthcare provider to write down a term or condition on your note pad if you can’t spell it.
- Get involved in the discussion. Ask about choices, side effects, next steps and recommendations.
- Ask how you should contact your healthcare provider if you have questions after you leave the office.
- Ask your healthcare provider to direct you to current and accurate sources for more information about your health or health issue.
- If you run out of time before you get your questions answered, ask if someone else in the office (a medical assistant, for example) can help, or ask to schedule a follow-up appointment. If you have questions after your appointment, call your doctor's office or send a question through MyChart.
- Find out how to access your medical records and keep track of test results, medications, immunizations and appointments. The MyChart app can assist with managing this information for Franciscan Health services and Franciscan Physician Network providers.
After your appointment, review what you’ve learned:
- Review any prescriptions or written recommendations you take home with you. If you don’t understand something, contact your healthcare provider.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and any medication instructions exactly.
- Use other resources, like pharmacists, to learn more about medications or medication-related issues.
- Keep any follow-up appointments your healthcare provider recommends.
Healthcare is about relationships. When you take charge of your health by clearly and honestly communicating your needs, you can help your healthcare provider give you the best care.