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How to get the most out of your doctor appointment

Establishing a partnership with your doctor is a key part of improving or maintaining your health. By preparing for your doctor appointments, you will be able to take an active role in your health, talk to your doctor more effectively, and get care that’s right for you.

Before your appointment

  • Determine what you want to get out of the visit.
  • Write down your top three concerns.
  • Think about your symptoms and how to describe them. How long have you had them? Have you noticed any patterns?
  • Put together a list of past doctor visits. It will help your doctor to know if you are being treated for other conditions.
  • Think about what might make it hard for you to take your medications or go to follow-up visits. Your doctor might be able to help with your situation.

What to take to your appointment

  • The questions and notes you prepared.
  • Your prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins in their original containers. Taking your medications in their containers will ensure your doctor knows about all the medications you use.
  • Consider taking a friend or family member to the appointment for support. They can take notes, remind you about questions you have, and share their thoughts after the visit.

Finding the right words

Here are some concerns you may have and questions you can ask to start a conversation with your doctor:

Concern:

You don’t know enough about a proposed treatment.

Questions you can ask:

  • What does the treatment involve?
  • What outcome can I expect?
  • Are there side effects? If so, what are they?
  • How long will the recovery be? How can I prepare so my recovery is easier?
  • Do I have to do this right away?

Concern:

You are not sure a treatment is right for you.

Questions you can ask:

  • Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my condition?
  • Is there another option we can try before using this drug or scheduling this procedure?
  • What have other patients done?

During your visit

  • At the start of the visit, tell your doctor that you have questions so they can leave time to address them.
  • Answer your doctor’s questions honestly.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t understand something. Ask your doctor to explain what they are saying, say it in a different way, or repeat it slowly.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble getting to appointments, need help, or can’t afford your medications. Your doctor may be able to connect you to people who can help.
  • By the end of the appointment, make sure you know:
    • Your next steps (this may be written on a post visit summary).
    • How and when you will be notified of your test results (if applicable).
    • What to do if your symptoms don’t get better worsen (if applicable).

If you’re a member and need to find a new provider, call our Health Care Concierge team at the number on your member ID card or click below.