Making the Appointment
You want to be clear about why you need to see a healthcare provider. Use the following questions to help yourself tell the office what they need to know to best accommodate your needs…
- Do you need an annual checkup?
- Is your visit about a new problem or an older one?
- Is your problem urgent? If so, make sure to tell the office that you need to see a provider right away.
- Are you wanting to meet with a specialist? With some health care plans, you will need to have a referral from you regular healthcare provider to see a specialist.
- Are you wanting to meet with a certain healthcare provider on staff? If so, make sure to tell the office which provider you want.
Before You Visit
A little preparation before your visit can go a long way. Please use the following tips to help your visit go smoothly.
List Your Questions
Make a list of the questions or concerns that you have about your problem. List your main problem first and then list the other problems later so that the most important problem is tackled first.
List Your Signs and Symptoms
Write down and describe you signs and symptoms. Let the provider know what they feel like, when they started, what makes them better, etc. Signs are physical and can be shown to your provider; like a rash, swelling, or redness. Symptoms are what you feel; like pain, dizziness, or itching.
List Your Medications
Keep a list of the prescribed and over the counter drugs you are taking so you can share this with you provider during your visit. List why you take each drug. Note how much of the drug you take and how often you take it. Update this list regularly.
Give Your Provider a Complete Health History
If you are a regular patient, your provider will probably have your health history from past forms you have filled out for them. If you become aware of something you failed to add or have questions about anything on the health history form, make sure to update your history or ask questions. You may want to keep a health journal for these occasions. If you want to prepare a health journal make sure to include the following…
- Illnesses and injuries
- Surgical Procedures
- Drugs taken (now and in the past)
- Allergies, including bad reactions to drugs and foods
- Personal information
- Exercise habits and diet (including alcohol use)
- Factors such as stress at work or events such as getting married or moving that can have a major effect on your life
- Harmful health behaviors such as smoking or drug use
- Family history of disease including parents, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents
Make Sure Your Provide Has Access to Your Past Medical Records
If you are visiting a new healthcare provider, bring any past medical records, X-rays, or test results you have with you. You will need the names and addresses of your past healthcare providers to share with you new provider so they can request you medical records.
Would You Like A Support Person With You?
A support person can be your advocate. Someone who knows you and who has your best interests in mind. This person can help you remember something during or after the visit. Make sure you are comfortable sharing information with this support person before you invite them to come along.
If English isn’t your first language then you make to bring along an interpreter. The office staff can help you find an interpreter if you don’t know one.
During the Visit
You have a right to speak up if you have any questions or concerns. Feel free to ask anything about the healthcare process.
The Physical Examination
You physical examination should be as comfortable as possible. Make sure to tell your provider is something bothers or frightens you. Be clear about your modesty needs. If you need to have a person of the same sex examine you, make sure to let the office know before your visit. It is reasonable to ask for a gown or a sheet if the the provider asks for you to undress.
Some healthcare providers have a chaperone present for certain examinations. When possible the chaperone should be a healthcare professional. If you want a chaperone present, be sure to ask for one. You can request a family member be present or not present during your visit. It’s your call.
Healthcare providers and professional should wash their hands before an examination. It is fine to remind them if they forget. Handwashing prevents the spread of infections.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider
Make sure to ask questions if you have them. Use your list and be sure to cover all of your questions. Answer the healthcare providers questions the best you can and always be honest.
Ask for simple clear explanations if you are having problems understanding your provider. Take notes if you need to.
If you are diagnosed or need further care, ask about your options if they haven’t been discussed. When you know all the options, you are more likely to make the best decision for yourself. You may want to ask some of the following questions…
- What might have caused this condition?
- What are the treatment choices?
- What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?
- How might the treatment affect my life?
- Whi is it importat that I follow a certain treatment plan? What might happen if I do not get treated?
Test, procedure, or surgery questions
- Why is it being done?
- What does it involve? What do I need to do to get ready?
- What should I expect? What are the side effects?
- How will I find out the results?
- How long will it take to recover?
Prescribed medication questions
- What are the brand and generic names of this medication?
- What are the instructions for taking this drug?
- When should I take it and in what relationship to food (full or empty stomach)?
- Should I avoid alcohol?
- How much should I take?
- For how long should I take it?
- What side effects can occur and what should I do if they occur?
- Is this drug safe to take with other drugs I’m taking (provide your list)?
Tell the Provider What You Have Learned
Repeat to the Healthcare Provider what you have learned during the visit so they can correct you if you are mistaken. If you need more time to discuss information and the provider has to go to their next appointment, make sure to make another appointment with them to discuss your questions and concerns further.
After the Visit
If you receive a diagnosis of a certain medical condition, learn as much as you can about that condition. The more you know the better you will be able to communicate with your healthcare provider. Better communication leads to better treatment. Use only reputable websites when gathering information about your condition. Non-profit organizations and government agencies are most likely to be free of bias. Also make sure the information is the most current information on the subject. The following websites are good choices for your research…
- www.acog.org – The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- www.health.gov – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- www.cancer.org – The American Cancer Society
Contact your healthcare provider if…
- You are confused about something
- You have other questions or concerns
- You start to feel worse or your medicine does no seem to be helping
- You have had a test or procedure and have not received the results. Don’t assume “no news is good news,”
Email Communication with Your Provider
Some Healthcare providers now use email (within reason) to communicate to their patients. Email can sometimes be a way to get answers without having to go in for a follow-up appointment since the provider answers the emails when they have time.
A Second Opinion
If for some reason you aren’t comfortable with the diagnosis or recommended treatment, you can get a “second opinion.” Getting another opinion could help you make an informed decision about your care.
At Premiere Center for Health and Wellness, we hope that your role will be an active one. Be prepared for you visit and make sure to not be afraid to ask questions of us if you are concerned about something.
Contact us (513-985-0950) today if you have any questions about his topic!