Get the Most From an Appointment With Your Doctor
Recent studies have shown that the average doctor’s appointment ranges from a mere seven to 21 minutes.
it’s not surprising to find that the key to getting the best care
and information is to be fully prepared when you first step into your
The Web site www.questium.com offers the following suggestions on how to get the most out of a few short minutes:
- Know your history
— Prior to your appointment, review and document the medical
history of your immediate relatives. Bring copies of these records with
you, especially if you’re seeing a new doctor.
- Do your homework
— Prepare to discuss specifics with your doctor. Use the Internet
or local libraries to research specific conditions, treatments and
drugs. In addition to mainstream options, there may be alternatives.
Ask friends and family members — you could be surprised by what
- Survey your environment
— Kids and co-workers getting sick? Know which bugs are
circulating in the office. Check in with other parents or the school
nurse to find out if anything is going around in your child’s
school. Ask your doctor how to protect yourself and your family.
- Make a list
— It’s hard to remember everything you want to discuss
during the appointment. Prepare a list of questions or topics before
going to see your doctor. Between appointments, keep a list of
questions to ask the next time. Also, remember the seven-minute
appointment rule and make sure your most important questions are at the
head of your list.
- Get it right the first time
— No one wants the needless cost and hassle of going to the wrong
doctor. Check your health plan’s provider directory or visit its
Web site to identify appropriate doctors. When you call for an
appointment, verify that the doctor is still a member of the health
plan’s provider network.
- Take charge
— Doctors see many patients a day, but they can’t read
minds. Introduce the topics you want their opinion on, and be very
clear about your concerns. Don’t leave until all your questions
have been answered.
- Ask about your drugs
— If your doctor orders an unfamiliar prescription, inquire about
potential interactions with your current medication. Since brand-name
drugs can be very costly, always inquire about generic alternatives.
Review the dosage and instructions with your pharmacist. He or she can
also address any concerns you may have.
- Follow up
— Sometimes answers raise new questions. Ask when your doctor is
available to answer any additional questions you might have. Can you
send your questions via e-mail? If your doctor is not available, ask if
there is someone who is. Nurse practitioners and aides are very
knowledgeable, and may be easier to reach.
patients make better health decisions for themselves and their
families. Make sure you are as informed about your condition as you can
— Lyn Wagner —