ES Elder Solutions Tips for A Better Doctor’s Appointment
- Schedule Routine Appointments In Advance, Before you need them. It’s much easier to move a scheduled appointment or adjust your schedule, than to try to get an appointment at the last minute (i.e., in order to meet your yearly deductible).
- Ask for the first, or the last appointment of the day… or last one before, or first one after, lunch. Ask which days are the busiest and try to avoid them.
- If you need an appointment sooner than the scheduler offers one, ask to be called in case of a cancellation.
- Give specific information- “I get dizzy sometimes” vs. I get dizzy when I change from sitting to standing up, usually in the afternoon, every day or once a week.
- What is the symptom
- How often does it occur
- What time of day does it present
- What other factors might be interfering- otc drugs, irregular eating times, etc., habits, unusually stressful events at home
- Anything that causes the symptoms to subside
- Call ahead to transfer your files- and verify they’ve been received before your appointment. You may need to sign an authorization to release information.
- Ask about what you need to do before your visit- for example, if you need to give a “fasting blood sample”- your doctor needs to order the labs, and the patient needs to comply. Ask about routine medication for chronic conditions if you’re giving a fasting blood sample.
- Research and share family health history.
- Do your own research and detective work: Web MD or Mayo Clinic.com. Your doctor knows about medicine- YOU are the expert about yourself. Observe and document information that you notice and which could be helpful. For example “I feel weak all the time since I began taking this medicine”.
- Call ahead to ask if your doctor is running on time or is behind schedule. Call if you’re going to be late so that you can help keep the office on schedule.
- Build rapport: get on your doctor’s good side.
- Bring all of your medications in their original containers. Dosage and brand names can make a big difference. Memory is often faulty in stressful situations.
- Take responsibility for maintaining and updating your own medical records- it’s too easy for technology to go awry.
- Develop a partnership with your doctor: Find a doctor who is philosophically aligned with you- or ask for a change.
- Write down your questions: make a list of your concerns.
- Consider bringing a family member or friend.
- Don’t forget your glasses if you need them.
Adapted from iVillage- How to Have a Better Appointment
Last revised July 2013