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How to get the most out of your doctor appointment

Building a partnership with a doctor matters. It is a great way to improve or maintain your health. And it’s also important for your family members and their health too.

By preparing for doctor appointments, you will be able to take an active role in your family’s health, talk to the doctor more effectively, and get care that’s right for you and your family.

Before your appointment

  • Determine what you want to get out of the visit.
  • Write down your top three concerns.
  • Think about your or your child’s symptoms and how to describe them. How long have the symptoms been occurring? Have you noticed any patterns?
  • Put together a list of past doctor visits. It will help your doctor to know if treatment is happening for other conditions.
  • Think about what might make it hard for you or your family member to take medications or go to follow-up visits. The doctor might be able to help with the situation.

What to take to your appointment

  • The questions and notes you prepared.
  • Prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins in their original containers. Taking the medications in their containers will ensure the doctor knows about all the medications being used already.
  • Consider taking a friend or another 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 the doctor about you or your family member being treated:

Concern:

You don’t know enough about a proposed treatment.

Questions you can ask:

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

Concern:

You are not sure a treatment is right for you or your family member being treated.

Questions you can ask:

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

During your visit

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

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