At doctor office. Doctor holding mri xray and talking to patient

Getting the Most out of a Medical Appointment

Like most things in life, preparation is key to optimal outcomes. The right preparation for visits to your physician is no exception and can make the visit more productive and effective for both you and your care team. Here are some steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of a medical appointment

Have a goal in mind

What is the purpose of the appointment? Is it a regular physical or are you there to be seen for a new symptom or concern? Going with a purpose will maximize the time you spend with your physician and help him or her optimize your health.  If you are there because of new symptoms, prepare in advance and document things such as how often you experience the symptoms (daily, weekly), if you happen to notice any particular triggers to the symptoms (at night, associated with certain foods etc.) or what methods you have tried to relieve the symptoms.

Update your health history 

Keep your physician updated on any new information you discover that may indicate potential genetic predispositions to certain conditions.  Maybe a family member has had Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes. Keep them informed of any changes in your health as well, maybe you’ve quite smoking, experienced weight gain or weight loss or made changes to your diet. Let them know if you have seen a specialist since your last visit and if that specialist conducted any diagnostic testing or added any new medications.  These are important things to share with your provider. You can keep all of this information in the alska connected caregiving portal along with your up to date medication list and other important documents.

Reconcile your medications

Take a current list of your medications including dose and how often you take it (frequency) so you can make certain they coincide with what your primary provider has on file. You may have visited a specialist who prescribed a new medication that your primary provider isn’t aware of.   This step is so important in preventing any adverse medication effects.  Also, make certain your primary pharmacy with correct address and telephone number is up to date and on file with your primary provider. The alska platform was created to help you better manage these important details. You can create your account now and try alska free for 30 days.

Don’t leave the appointment feeling confused 

If there is something you are confused about or don’t understand ask your provider to explain it to you.  If a test is ordered and you don’t understand the preparation instructions or even the reason for the test, make certain it is clear to you before you leave.  Your provider would much rather answer your questions during the time dedicated to your care than have you leave feeling confused and not follow through with important instructions or try to follow up later when things aren’t fresh in your mind.

Stay focused

The reality is that most physicians have very limited time to spend and that time needs to be dedicated to the issue at hand.  While it’s important to bring up anything pertinent to your current condition, using the appointment to go over every issue you are or have been experiencing is likely to result in a less effective resolution to your concerns.  If you need a longer appointment, let your provider know this in advance so they can allow additional time to spend with you.

Take an advocate with you.

Even if you are completely independent and very capable of managing your health, information exchanged during an appointment can get lost or misunderstood, and having another set of eyes and ears there will make all the difference. While you are talking to your provider or asking questions, your trusted advocate can be taking notes and even remind you of questions or concerns you had that you may have forgotten.  This person could be your trusted designated health proxy, a professional advocate, or even a trusted family or friend.