The average doctor’s visit takes about 20 minutes. Granted, that doesn’t include your wait time or the doctor’s time spent reviewing your charts. But, once the doctor enters the exam room for your one-on-one, the time can fly by, so it helps to come prepared. After all, the best way to get the most out of your health care dollars is to get more out of an appointment with your doctor.
Here are some simple tips to help you prepare for your appointment
- Be on time – arrive a few minutes early for your appointment so that you can review any changes to your insurance coverage or other personal information with the doctor’s assistant or receptionist.
- Write down your questions beforehand – It’s so easy to forget your questions once you’re in the exam room, so don’t just rely on your memory. Writing down the questions helps you prioritize them so you’ll know what to ask first. Also, bring a list of all of your current medications, doses and frequency, including herbs and dietary supplements that you’re taking.
- Bring a family member or close friend – If you are seeing the doctor to review test results, ask a family member or friend to come with you. It helps to have another person listen to the doctor’s explanation, ask questions you might not think of and take notes for you.
- Be honest – If it’s a problem with your medications, a health issue or even a something you think is minor, the doctor is the person to tell! Let the doctor decide what’s important to know. Remember, your doctor can help the most when he or she has all the facts.
- Take control of your health – If you don’t understand something, ask questions. If you have questions about new medication or a test, now is the time to ask.
- Relax – Most of us are nervous or anxious when visiting a doctor. Some patients even suffer from white-coat hypertension, which means their blood pressure rises higher than normal when they are in the doctor’s office (it happens to me all the time). When you arrive, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. Remember, your doctor is on your side and wants to help you stay healthy!