Time for a check-up with your family doctor? Need to see a specialist? Made a change to a new healthcare provider?
You can make your next visit to the doctor go smoothly by following these simple guidelines.
15 tips to make the most out of your appointment
Know the date, time and place for your appointment. If this is your first visit, get directions ahead of time to relieve stress or anxiety. Plan to arrive a few minutes before your appointment time to complete a medical history and other paperwork.
Check your insurance coverage to make sure your provider is in network. A quick call to your carrier will let you know about co-payments and could save you from an unexpected bill.
Write down a short list of health concerns in order of importance. Let your provider know right away that you have specific issues to address. If you have several items to discuss, you may need to schedule another appointment.
Provide names and dates of specialists you have seen recently, including trips to urgent care or the emergency room. Your doctor can request records from other providers to better understand your health condition.
Bring a list of medications, dosages and why you take them. Include vitamins, supplements, herbs or essential oils you use. The list will give your doctor a more complete understanding about interactions between medications and supplements you take. Remember – knowing what your medications are for and when to take them is one of the best ways to prevent mix-ups.
Confirm the pharmacy location you prefer with your provider. Ask how far in advance you need to request a prescription refill. Mail-order prescriptions may take longer to receive than ones filled at a local pharmacy. Find out if you can get a 90-day prescription that can save time and frustration when you need a refill.
Explain how your feeling. You know your body and can tell if something is going on that’s not quite right. Let your doctor know about new or unusual symptoms, no matter how trivial they may seem.
Keep a health journal with symptoms that concern you, such as abdominal pain or a rash. Even if you think the signs are normal for your age, a log may help your doctor better understand your condition.
Talk about life changes, such as a death of a family member, divorce or retirement. Life events can affect your physical and mental health. That’s why it’s important to let your provider know about stresses in your life.
Take notes during your visit or ask a spouse, relative or friend to go with you to the appointment. It’s not easy to take in all the information your provider may give you. Oftentimes a companion may hear things you miss. If you are alone, ask your provider to write down instructions or other information for you to review at home.
Bring glasses or hearing aids to your appointment. Ask for help if you have trouble hearing or reading instructions from your provider.
Keep an open mind about treatment recommendations from your doctor. You may think you need an MRI, but after listening to your symptoms, your doctor may have a different solution. Ask questions to understand if you need a test or why one test may be better than another.
Call before or after your visit if you have questions. Your provider may be able to take care of requests or concerns over the phone and save you a trip into the office. For example, you may learn you can drop off urine or stool samples without an appointment.
Find a doctor you trust. Not every doctor is right for you. You will get the health care you need when you find a doctor who treats you the way you want to be treated.
At Goshen Physicians, we have more than 85 providers to take care of your family. Use our online search tool to find the right doctor for you, GoshenHealth.com/Find-A-Doctor.
Join the next Thrive meeting
At our September 3 Thrive meeting, we’ll talk about advance care planning.
Thrive meetings are offered the first Tuesday of each month, 11:00 a.m. to noon at the Greencroft Community Center in Goshen. To find out more, visit GoshenHealth.com/THRIVE or call (574) 364-2496. Meetings are free and no registration is required.