If you don’t always have the best experience at the doctor’s office, you aren’t alone. It’s easy to leave your appointment feeling disappointed, confused, or like you haven’t really fixed your problem.
The natural reaction is to assume it’s time to find a new doctor. Although it is possible that a new doctor will make your experience in the doctor’s office better, it’s also possible that there’s nothing wrong with your existing doctor. There are just a few things you have to do in order to make sure you get the most out of your visit.
Make Sure Your Doctors are Connected
Think your doctor already knows about your diagnosis? Think again! If you were diagnosed with a condition by a different doctor, even if that doctor is part of the same healthcare group, and even if they are in the same building, don’t assume your doctor knows!
Unfortunately, many clinics and physicians just aren’t connected the way they should be, which means your doctor may not have the entire picture when you approach them about a new health concern.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if and how they are connected to other physicians. For example, some may mention that they use PatientPing to share information between clinics and healthcare providers, while others may let you know that they aren’t as connected as they would like. If that’s the case, simply ask if you can send your medical information to their office by calling other providers ahead of your visit.
Know What You Want to Get Out of the Appointment
Doctors are busy. They see many different patients each day, which means they only have a few minutes to spend with you. Instead of letting them take the lead, know what you want to get out of the appointment so you aren’t left feeling like you weren’t heard.
First, determine exactly why you made the appointment. Are you looking for a diagnosis? Maybe you want to discuss alternate treatment plans for a current condition? It doesn’t matter what your goal is, as long as you iron it out before you enter the clinic.
You should also write down your symptoms so you don’t spend precious minutes thinking through what they are in the doctor’s office. Use OPQRST to help you:
Know Your Health History
Your family history is important. What your parents, grandparents, and siblings have experienced could inform your doctor about your current health challenges. Make sure you bring your history with you to your appointment.
Not sure what to include in your health history? Include things like medical conditions, causes of death, age at disease diagnosis, and ethnic background.
Bring a List of Medication You Take
Your health history can help your doctor provide you with the best care, but so can knowing what medications you take. Once again, don’t assume your doctor already knows! Just because someone else in the same office prescribed a particular medication doesn’t mean it is in your file.
Bring an up-to-date medication record with you to every doctor’s appointment that includes all of the medication you are prescribed. However, you should also include other types of medications you take. For example, do you take ibuprofen or acetaminophen on a regular basis, or have you been taking an over-the-counter allergy medication?
Don’t forget about supplements! Some can interact with popularly prescribed prescription drugs, so make sure your doctor knows what you take, even if it’s just a daily multivitamin.
Know What Questions You Want to Ask Before Your Appointment
Your doctor may be busy, but there are still things they wish you would ask! Take the time before your appointment to jot down a few questions you have for your doctor. They can include things like preventative care options, where to go on the internet for more information, and how at risk you are for certain health problems.
By taking the time to write down questions ahead of your appointment, you can’t accidentally forget to ask when you find yourself in the exam room.
Switching doctors sounds like the right solution if you are unhappy with your care, but don’t assume that it will fix your problem. Sometimes, there are other things you should try doing first. Not only will you receive better care, but you’ll skip the hassle of having to find another provider!