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10 Ways to Get the Most of Your Doctor's Visit

If you prepare for your doctor's visit ahead of time and actively participate with your doctor in your care, then you will have fewer questions about what you are to do next, and you will not feel like you are at the mercy of the "medical system" that seems to rush through everything.
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In today's managed care environment, insurers are paying for shorter and shorter doctor visits, so to get excellent medical outcomes, it benefits you to learn the 10 important things to do before your appointment. If you see your doctor for a problem, follow these 10 steps before entering the doctor's office.

1. Think about why you are going to the doctor, and your symptoms. Being aware of the reason for your visit and what you need from the doctor is essential to being happy with your care.

2. Create a file on your computer (that you can update when you see your various doctors) containing your medical information and bring a paper copy for your doctor.

3. List of all your medicines and supplements, with doses included.

4. Include any ER visits or surgeries you have had since your last visit to this doctor.

5. Identify symptoms of your "chief complaint" which are those symptoms that you have currently and want to discuss with your physician.
• Where does it hurt?(or itch, or ache, etc).
• How do I feel in general? (great except for this, or tired and worn out or....
• How long have I been aware of this problem?
• What, if anything, have I already tried to treat this problem?
• What makes it better or worse?
• Does it fluctuate?
• Even if it does not hurt, are there changes that began at the same time as you primary problem, that you notice physically, or emotionally? (i.e. is your hair falling out? Do you get muscle spasms? or twinges? Do your teeth hurt? Your Jaw? Do you have Headaches?)
• Have you ever had this problem before and was it treated successfully

6. Make sure your doctor tells you what your diagnosis might be. Most doctors have a list in their head about what is going on, so make sure they share that list with you.

7. Don't let your doctor leave the room without giving you a treatment plan. That means if the doctor listens to you and examines you and then walks out without telling you what she is thinking then politely ask her what the next steps are.
Blood tests?
Xrays, or Ultrasounds?
Medications?
When you are to come back?

8. Ask how you will get the results of your tests? Are you to call or will she or her nurse call you? Will you get an email or need to come back in for the results? Is no news good news? It is vital that you understand how to proceed on your end.

9. Ask what you can do with your lifestyle and diet to assist in resolution of your problem, and then do it!

10. Always make your next appointment for follow-up as you leave.

If you prepare for your doctor's visit ahead of time and actively participate with your doctor in your care, then you will have fewer questions about what you are to do next, and you will not feel like you are at the mercy of the "medical system" that seems to rush through everything.

In my experience if my patients come in with their vital information that relates to their primary problem, on one page, I can review that snapshot and concentrate on treatment. The written information makes my mind much more focused on the "differential diagnosis" or what the few most likely diagnoses are for their problem, and how to proceed with testing and treatment. In reality this may save my patient one or two visits to my office. When you are prepared for your doctor visit, then you will get what you need more quickly and more accurately!