I know, there are a million reason why we don’t visit the doctor on a regular basis. Usually, we say we don’t have the time. Or nothing seems wrong. Or we need to watch the game. However, the best way to avoid an illness in the future is by investing a few minutes with your doctor now. This small investment of time could prevent a debilitating disease. Or an expensive, lengthy, hospital stay.
Once you have decided to make that appointment, it makes sense to prepare for it. Create a list of questions that will help keep you in good health for months, and even years, down the road. Keep in mind, your questions to the doctor are just as important as the doctor’s questions for you. And the doctor wants to hear your questions and concerns, so don’t hesitate to speak up.
To help you get the most out of your visit, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides a few suggestions to prepare you before, during, and after your appointment. Begin by thinking about any current or possible health concerns. Some suggestions include:
- Talking about a health problem or how to prevent health problems.
- Getting or changing a medicine.
- Getting medical tests.
- Talking about surgery or treatment options.
Take your list of questions to the appointment and be prepared to provide information about your health history, your family’s health history, current medications, lifestyle, working conditions and diet. When you arrive, inform the receptionist or medical assistant that you have questions about your health and, when speaking with the doctor, make sure you understand all of the doctor's answers. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Some examples may include:
- What is my disease or condition? How serious is it? How will it affect my personal and professional life? What symptoms should I watch for? What precautions should I take for myself and those around me?
- What are my treatment options? What are the benefits and risks of each option? What are the side effects?
- Will I need a test? How accurate is it? What will the results tell me? When will the results be available?
- What will the medicine you are prescribing do? How do I take it? What are the side effects? How do you spell the name of the drug? Will the medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking? What if I miss a dose? Will it be covered by my insurance?
- Why do I need surgery? Are there other ways to treat my condition? How often do you perform this surgery? What risks are involved
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- Do I need to change my daily routine?
Find out what the next steps will be and ask if there are any written instructions, brochures, videos, or websites to help you learn more. Additionally, you can find reliable drug and health information, and information about financial assistance programs here at Pharmatica if necessary.
After the appointment, make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions including taking the medicines prescribed, following up with lab work, or making another appointment. If you discover you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. You should also contact the doctor right away if you experience any medication side effects, or if your symptoms get worse. Finally, inform the doctor about any of the following:
- Receiving a new prescription from a different doctor or start taking any over-the-counter medicines.
- Not receiving information on test results.
- The need for an explanation on the test results received.
Going to see your doctor on a regular basis may lead to better results and outcomes for you. The best part is, you'll be saving yourself money while also staying healthy!
Thanks for reading.
Mr. Glen, R.Ph.