It is a known fact that if you are more involved with your own health care, you are more likely to achieve the best health. By working together with your physician you can make your experience a positive one. It takes time and effort to build a strong relationship with your health team but it’s worth it. These are the people who are working with you to solve your problem. One way to achieve this prime goal is to be prepared for your visit with your healthcare provider.
These are the steps you can take to make the most of your health care visit.
Before Your doctor Visit:
To prepare yourself for your health care appointment is an initial step to ensure you will get the most out of your visit and to get yourself prepared you can do the following:
Write down your concerns before doctor Visit:
Make a list of all the questions that you have starting with the main concern. Then list any other problem or concerns that you want to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Make note of your Signs and Symptoms:
Take a great deal of time and think closely about all the signs and symptoms of your problem. It’s better to make a note of it as well so you could describe them to your health care provider in a most effective way. Like, what they feel like when they started, what makes them better or what makes them worse. This information helps your health care provider better understand your problem and be able to give you the best treatment. Now there is a difference between signs and symptoms
Signs are things that you can show to the health care provider, such as a rash, swelling or redness.
Symptoms are things that you feel such as pain, dizziness, restlessness or itching.
List Your Medications before your doctor visit:
Keep the list of the medicines you take. It will include prescribed medicines; over the counter medicines, such as pain medicine; vitamin supplements; and herbal remedies. Note how much and how often you take it.
Your Health History:
Your healthcare team will ask you about your past health history at your appointment. They may give you a form to fill out. If you do not understand any question, the office staff can help you.
So it’s better to prepare a record of your general health in a written form for this and future health care visits. A personal health record includes information about the following:
- Surgical history
- Hospitalization and treatments
- Medicines current and past medications
- Family history of disease
- Personal information
- Exercise, habits, and diet
- Factors that can have a major effect on your life such as stress at work.
- Any harmful health behaviors such as smoking and drug use
Bringing a Support Person at your doctor visit:
Think about bringing a support person with you, the person could be your friend or relative who has your best interests in mind. It’s hard to remember all of the things you are told at each doctor’s visit. It helps to have the same person there with you each time. They can remind you of questions you want to ask and help you recall what the doctor said. Make sure you are comfortable sharing information with this person. If you need to bring your young children, also bring someone to take care of them while you are with your health care provider.
Fill in Communication Gap
Good healthcare starts with good communication. Ask for an interpreter if the language is a barrier to communication or if you are hearing impaired, you may need an interpreter. Ask the office staff whether they can find an interpreter who is experienced in your language and in medical terms. Be sure to give them enough notice. Friends and family members may not make the best interpreters as they may not understand medical terms. Also, you may be discussing sensitive issues with your health care provider that you want to be kept private. Make sure you are comfortable with the interpreter.
During Your Doctor Visit:
During your visit feel free to talk with your health care team about any concerns about the healthcare process. Your healthcare team welcomes your questions. Ask questions if you do not understand anything. It is your body and your right to know everything about your healthcare. If you think of a question when your health care provider is not present, write down your questions so that you can ask them at a later time.
The Physical Examination:
Your health care provider should make your physical examination. If for religious or cultural reasons you need to have a female provider, discuss this requirement at the time of making your appointment. Do tell your health care provider if something bothers or frightens you.
If equipment is used for your care, know what it is for and how it should sound. Question anything that seems unusual or different from what you were told.
Some health care providers may have a chaperone present during the exam. Whenever possible, the chaperone should be a healthcare professional (such as a nurse or nursing assistant). You can have a family member present during the exam, or you can ask not to have family members present. Make your wishes known.
Asking Questions during you visit:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many doctors wait for you to ask questions, but you may not even know what to ask. It’s easy to forget the questions you or your loved ones may have. Use your list to be sure you cover all of your questions. If the health care provider asks you questions, answer them as best as you can. Be honest. This is all for your own good.
If you need more details after your health care provider answers your questions, say so. Make sure you understand everything your health care provider says. It may be helpful to ask the same question again in some other way. Sometimes, health care providers use words that are hard to understand. If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor for simple and clear explanations. It may help to ask for pictures, websites, videos, or other things you can take home and look at.
Make sure you understand all the instructions given to you by your healthcare provider before you leave the office. Then follow them exactly. It’s OK to call the doctor’s office if you have more questions later. Nurses can often help you, too.
If you need further care, ask about your options if they have not been discussed. You should understand the different treatments that are available. When you know all the options, you are more likely to make a good decision.
At the end of your appointment, repeat what you have learned to the healthcare provider. This recap will help your health care provider a chance to correct any misunderstandings. Make sure you are clear about all the instructions including medicines you need any information about your follow-up visit. Be sure you are given a phone number to call if you have any questions.
Do you have any concerns during your doctor visit? If you have any concerns about any issue, please speak about it with your healthcare provider, or see if you can schedule another appointment to continue your talk.
After Your Visit :
If you have received a diagnosis of a certain medical condition, learn as much about it as you can. The more you know about your condition, the more likely you will understand what your health care provider recommends and should be done from your end. Make sure you have all the necessary information before deciding on what procedures to have and what medications to take. You may never know as much about your health issues and its treatment as your doctor, but you and your loved ones are the only ones who can decide what’s best for you. As part of your team, keep in mind that you have a key part to play in your care.
The internet and your public library offer lots of health information. However, be sure that when using the internet, you use only reputable websites. Some sites have misleading information that has not been carefully reviewed. Websites sponsored by non-profit organizations (“.org”) or government agencies (“.gov”) are most likely to be free of bias. Listed are some good websites to visit:
www.acog.org (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
www.health.gov (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
www.cancer.org (The American Cancer Society)
Your doctor is a key “player” on your health care team. It may take a little time and work before you feel at ease with him or her. Take the time to ask your questions and share your concerns. Everyone has their own way of sharing information. That’s why the best doctor for one person may not be a good match for someone else. Think about what you want in a doctor. Some people want a doctor who shares facts in an expert and business-like manner. They don’t expect their doctor to be their friend. Other people want their doctor to have a great “bedside manner.” They want a doctor they can feel close to. Try to figure out what you need, and let your doctor know. Your relationship with your doctor is important. Problems may come up, but talking about these problems with your doctor can help. If you’re not happy with this relationship or not comfortable with the diagnosis or recommended treatment, you may need to think about other options, such as switching doctors. If this happens, tell your doctor about your decision and the reasons for it. Ask for their help in turning over your care to the new doctor. Getting another opinion can help you make an informed decision about your care.
It’s Your Health Care Team
You are a key member of your healthcare team. Your team will count on you to be an active partner. This means going to office visits, taking medicines as prescribed, telling your doctor or nurse about any problems or concerns you are having, and asking questions. If you need treatment, know the risks and benefits.
The more you are involved with your own health care you are likely to achieve the best health.