Whether it’s your first visit to a provider or you have a long-term, established relationship, there are things you can do to better prepare for your next primary care or specialist appointment.
Here are some tips for making the most of your next appointment with your healthcare provider.
Prepare for Your Visit
Bring along every medication that you’re taking and have some understanding of your own medical history. Especially if you’re coming in with a specific problem it’s helpful to know if things like this have happened in the past, what has worked or helped, and what hasn’t.
Your provider will always ask about your personal medical history, surgical history, current medications, and your amount of drinking and smoking, as those change your risk factors. Know the names and locations of previous providers you’ve seen and where you’ve had screenings done, such as mammograms or colonoscopies. This information helps because providers can access those records if they know where to request them.
One Issue at a Time
Think through, and perhaps write down, exactly what you want to share. Think about not only what you’re feeling but also what might be keeping you from doing well.
An annual checkup may feel broad with so much to cover. Try to prioritize your list, which items are most pressing that should be addressed right away and others that your doctor can add to her notes to address in subsequent visits. Flexibility is key to making the most of each visit with your provider.
Consider having a loved one accompany you if they would add something to the appointment, such as filling in gaps in your history, helping you remember the questions you’d like to ask or if they will help you follow your provider’s recommendations after the visit.
Know What Your Doctor is Listening For
Communicating what matters to you, not just what’s the matter with you is vital. Your provider wants to hear your stories. They are trained to listen to patients talk about their health in specific ways, so consider these while you’re preparing for a visit about a specific issue:
- How can you describe your symptoms in detail?
- What have you noticed?
- When and how often do you experience the problem?
- What can you share, such as a journal, photos or video, that might give them a better sense of the issue?
Be honest and accurate. Providers have heard and seen it all, and they’re certainly not judging you. Everything about your life matters and impacts your health, and sharing those details, whether it’s drug or alcohol use or your sex life, no matter how uncomfortable, will improve your relationship with your provider, leading to better health outcomes.
When you listen to your doctor, you may often have follow-up questions. You can always ask for clarification before you go, and MyChart is a great way to stay in touch between visits. Our providers want you to know the why behind their recommendations so you can be a full participant in your healthcare journey.