Communicating with your doctor can be difficult. They’re always in a rush, using confusing medicalese, or just plain not listening.
If you’re aging or dealing with serious health concerns, this can be frustrating, to say the least.
But what can you do? Complain to the practice manager? Change physicians? Ask the doctor to change his or her ways? These are likely ineffective, at best.
A better option? Simply come more prepared.
How to Prep for Your Appointments
While you may not be able to change your doctor’s ways, there are ways you can stand up for yourself and ensure clear, open and helpful dialogue with your medical team. And most of them? They start before any appointment even occurs.
- Arrange for a trusted loved one to join you. Having an extra person at your appointments can ensure you don’t miss anything the doctor says. They might also have additional questions you hadn’t thought of.
- Bring the right guiding documents. Having your POLST, MOLST and other advanced care directives on hand can help guide your conversation and ensure your doctor knows your preferences and long-term medical plan.
- Sign up for the practice’s web portal. Most doctors have some sort of customer web portal nowadays. Sign up before your appointment, and make sure you have alerts enabled. Once you leave your appointment, you can log in to view your appointment summary, treatment plan, prescriptions, test results and more.
- Come with a list of questions and symptoms. Bring with you a comprehensive list of everything you want to ask, as well as every symptom you’re dealing with. This can help speed up a diagnosis and ensure all your concerns are addressed.
- Have a note pad on hand. Have your loved one bring pen and paper to the appointment to keep track of the conversation. They should also write down the doctor’s recommended next steps — particularly the items you’ll be responsible for once you leave. (For example, taking a new prescription twice a day, losing weight, avoiding X food, etc.)
- Tap other resources. When the doctor leaves you with a nurse or other practitioner, use them to your advantage. Ask them questions, get their opinion and voice your concerns. If you’re having a problem getting through to the doctor, their colleague may be able to address the problem and ease your frustration.
At the end of the day, you may also want to schedule an appointment with your family doctor — even if your previous visit was with a specialist. Family doctors can help coordinate your overall care plan (not just one or two issues you may be dealing with), and studies show that they actually listen better, too. Keeping them in the loop about any changes to your care plan or condition can help ensure better long-term health.
Don’t forget: At Uphold Health, our care coordinators are here to help. We’re only a phone call away. Sign up today to get started.