With numerous patients to check up on in a day, your doctor may only have few minutes with you during your appointment. Make it count by addressing your issue clearly and getting the right advice. Learn how!
An appointment with the doctor means only a few precious minutes in the clinic hours. It is all the time a patient has to explain why s/he is there, get checked, be prescribed treatment, and have all queries answered. “Gosh! Will the doctor get enough information in such short time to make the diagnosis?” is a common worry shared by most patients.
Here’s a major clue towards getting the most out of an appointment and to receive the best care – It is crucial to take one’s role as a patient more seriously! Yes, planning well for the appointment is the key here.
Here’s a checklist for patients to develop an active role in one’s healthcare and make the most of each visit to the doctor:
A. Before the Appointment
Planning ahead of the actual appointment is key to making the most of one’s brief time with the doctor. Below are some suggestions for the same:
- Managing all previous health records – Is the doctor spending more time looking for a particular report amidst a pile of papers than in discussing the case? All medical records and documents should be neatly compiled for easy assess by the doctor. Documents to arrange well include all records from previous treatment or doctors and lab or imaging test results.
- Making a list – A list of information points that could be useful for the doctor can be created beforehand. This could include:
- Any current medication
- Prior treatment history
- Any allergy or reaction to particular medication
- Medical issues that run in the family
- Brief points about current symptoms
- Taking along a friend or family member – Those who feel frazzled when meeting a doctor may find it helpful to have someone alongside to remember all information being provided and to ask questions that the patient might miss.
- Wearing suitable attire – Depending on the ailment and the possible physical examination of a particular organ, the patient must wear clothing that is comfortable and non-obstructive. It’s okay to let fashion can take a backseat when at the doctor’s office!
B. During the Appointment
Below are some tips to manage anxiety over meeting the doctor and utilizing that time to address all concerns:
- Arriving ahead of time – Finding the doctor’s office, filling up forms or making payment can consume time; it is best to keep margin for these activities.
- Describing all information accurately – It is important to not hold back any information that might be useful for the doctor to give his/her assessment, however embarrassing it may seem.
- Being brief – The patient must focus on the key points and not deviate from the conversation. Those notes prepared beforehand can come handy in this situation!
- Finding out about the next steps – Is there need for follow-up appointments, home care practices or any other hospital procedure? It is best to ask about these during the appointment and save another trip or frantic call later.
C. After the Appointment
Once the appointment is over, the following steps will ensure that the patient carries out all the necessary actions:
- Reviewing the prescription or information handed out by doctor – In case something is unclear like a prescription dosage, it is best to confirm it with the doctor or the attending staff. A phone call and reference should be able to work in this situation.
- Following all instructions – While a doctor’s role lies in handing out treatment and following up with a later appointment, it is now upon the patient to take the full course of prescribed medication or treatment.
- Keeping the doctor informed – Test results, any reaction to medicine or complication in the treatment plan must be brought to the doctor’s attention. The patient may schedule a follow-up appointment to show
An effective appointment is not only a doctor’s onus for handing out treatment, but also for the patient to take these small steps towards a productive meeting with the him/her!
Image courtesy of [imagerymajestic] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Get the best out of your GP: On average you get SEVEN minutes with your doctor. Here’s how to make the most of them…” DailyMail.co.uk, Lucy Elkins, February 8, 2011, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1354640/Doctors-advice-How-best-GP-7-minutes.html
“Get the most from a doctor’s appointment,” NHS.uk, http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/Yourhealth/Pages/Appointment.aspx
“Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Visit,” OrthoInfo.AAOS.org, http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00561
“Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment,” CFAH.org, Center for Advancing Health, http://www.cfah.org/prepared-patient/communicate-with-your-doctors/getting-the-most-out-of-doctors-appointment