In all my interviews this year using my A2U discussion tool, one of the areas that came up over and over was the limited time patients have in a doctor’s office.
To get the most out of this short time, and perhaps even a healthier outcome, here are 10 tips that doctors have recommended. This comes from an article in the Wall Street Journal called Get The Most Out Of A Trip To The Doctor, written by Sumathi Reddy.
Having just 15 to 20 minutes with a doctor seems awfully short, but here’s how to get the most of it.
- ask questions. Doctors suggest writing out a list of questions before your visit to ensure that you remember them. Write the questions in order of importance in case you can’t get to everything.
- mind the time. Stay focused on why you’re in the office. I like a little chit-chat, I like to know my patients’ stories, but if you only get 10 minutes, then let’s not spend that sharing small talk. Call ahead if you’re running a few minutes late and minimize your waiting time by booking appointments first thing in the morning.
- bring your meds. That includes herbal and over-the-counter medications, and prescriptions you might have got from another doctor. Bring the actual bottles with the original label so you can double-check the dosing and make sure there hasn’t been an error.
- take notes. Writing down what the doctor says could help your memory, jog your memory later after the visit.
- tell the truth. Even uncomfortable topics such as poor eating habits, or medication adherence, or risky practices might cause you to avoid or sugar-coat a subject, but don’t leave things out. If you’re not being truthful the doctor can’t do their best job in taking care of you.
- bring a friend. Going to an appointment accompanied by a spouse, and adult child, or a friend is particular important if you’re expecting important test results. You may have trouble understanding or remembering things, and having someone else there can help with that.
- be realistic. Having a hard time getting more exercise like the doctor told you to, or having trouble changing your diet? Don’t feel embarrassed to ask a question if you don’t understand something, and keep the instructions realistic.
- bring things up first. When you’re having a health concern that provokes some anxiety, you may need to work up the nerve to ask about it, but don’t save it to the end of the visit. Then you’ll have the least time to discuss it. Having a list of what you wanna share with the doctor can help with this.