4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Next Doctor’s AppointmentBy Steve Calechman
A doctor’s visit can be nerve-racking, whether you’re managing a chronic illness or in peak health. There’s the stress of getting to the office, worry over possibly uncovering a problem, and frustration from feeling like you barely get any time with your doctor. And since this is often the only chance we have to interact face-to-face with our practitioner, it can feel like a lot is riding on getting it right—from making sure we get a thorough examination to remembering to bring up all our questions and concerns. As it is with many important meetings, preparation is key. So, what does that look like, exactly? Taking these four steps before your next medical appointment can turn down the tension and save time.
Know Your History
How many times have you sat in a waiting room struggling to remember if your mother had macular degeneration or glaucoma, or who in your family had the heart condition? Know that every doctor you see, from your GP to a specialist, is going to ask about certain things. That questionnaire cannot be sidestepped, especially by new patients. Prep beforehand by writing down your family history, especially of cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, obesity, aneurysms, and mental health. For existing patients, make a note of any family conditions that have changed since your last visit, so you can update the information. Doing so saves time and also allows your doctor to offer the most informed advice, says Neha Vyas, M.D., family medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic.
It’s also always good to know dates of surgeries and procedures, such as the last time you had a colonoscopy. If you have a recent diagnosis or a chronic condition, you want to be prepared to answer questions such as: When did it start? Is there anything, like a food or activity, that makes it worse? What is it preventing you from doing? For those with a chronic condition like diabetes or hypertension, bring with you a record of your last few at-home readings, such as your glucose levels or blood pressure. This can help your health care provider spot any trends or changes in your condition.
You’ll also be asked about social behavior—drinking, sexual activity, drug use, and smoking. The doctor isn’t looking to judge. Again, he or she just wants to be able to give appropriate advice. Still, some may find it difficult to share, especially if the relationship with the doctor is new. Write this down, as well, and hand it to the doctor. “That way, you’re getting the information out, but it feels less on the spot,” says Pooja DeWilde, D.O., family medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine.
Show Up Early
Being on time is great. Getting