Whether you’re an Illinois resident or reside in another state you have experienced the frustration of having only a few precious minutes to explain your ailments to your doctor. When we feel rushed it is easy to forget to mention specifics, or dismiss our complaints as unimportant. Yet when we don’t speak up for ourselves our health can suffer. We suggest a few tips to ensure that you get the most out of your medical visit and make sure you are getting the best care possible.
One suggestion is to come to your doctor’s appointment prepared, which means writing down any medical questions or concerns you may have. This will ensure that you don’t leave the doctor’s office and later remember you wanted to know if you should be concerned about the new mark on your upper arm, or if your frequent headaches should be addressed.
It is most important that patients are always honest and forthright with their doctors. Too often, patients withhold critical information because the truth is embarrassing or because they don’t want to disappoint the doctor by admitting that they did not follow the advice or the treatment plan that was laid out for the patient.
If you have been diagnosed with a new disease or health problem, consider doing a bit of research on it prior to your doctor’s visit. This will help you become more familiar with the topic and be a better informed patient. However, doctors suggest that sometimes over searching can be problematic and that it is important to remember that each case is different so your care might not necessarily follow what you found online. It is just as important to listen as it is to do your research.
However, if you have trouble remembering the speedy conversation that takes place in your physician’s office it might be a good idea to keep a record of it. For example, you could ask your doctor in advance whether you can record your conversations. it is not uncommon for family members to bring video cameras to their visits, but make sure that you get your doctor’s permission first. Otherwise, taking some notes during the visit itself is also a good idea.
Doctors can also take additional steps to make sure your visit is positive and productive. One family medicine physician advocates building a report with their patients by greeting them warmly by name, briefly inquiring into important events in their lives, maintaining eye contact, focusing on the patient without interrupting, and displaying empathy through words and body language.
Another suggestion for doctors is to first address the patient’s concerns. If there are several new medical issues it might be best to focus on just one or two of the most pressing and leave the remaining medical issues for later visits.
These are just some suggestions for making your doctor visits more positive and productive, but you need to find a balance and method that works for you. Just remember that your time is important, too, and that if you withhold information from your physician then it is very difficult to make sure you’re receiving proper treatment. So speak up and don’t forget to ask questions and be your own medical advocate.