How many times have you walked out of your doctor’s office and realized you forgot something important? You know how it goes: You start thinking about the potential issues and complications. You feel stressed and anxious, and when you sit down in front of your doctor all those worries and anxieties take hold, you focus on a few key points, and you forget everything else.
Doctor’s appointments aren’t easy to come by these days, and the backlog created by the Coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns has made them even harder to get. As such, it’s important to discuss everything you need during the allotted time that you have. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do that, helping you get more our of your doctor.
Take Your Time; You Have More of it Than you Think
Patients acknowledge that doctors don’t have a lot of time, thus feeding into their desperate need to get things over with. They rush, speak quickly, reel off their issues, and then wait for the doctor to respond. In the end, they’re so anxious not to waste the doctor’s time that they miss key information and have to book a follow-up appointment.
In the long run, this is only going to waste more of the patient’s and the doctor’s time. It’s important to take your time and remember that you probably have more of it than you think. The average doctor’s appointment is just under 16 minutes, which is more than enough time to say everything that needs to be said.
Take your time, don’t feel like you have to rush anything, and if you remember anything near the end of your appointment, speak up! You have more time than you think.
You definitely shouldn’t waste the doctor’s time chatting about your morning routine, your thoughts on the presidency, and other superfluous info, especially when you consider how little time many doctors have following the devastation of COVID-19. At the same time, you shouldn’t feel like you need to gloss over potentially important health issues or race through the conversation like an auctioneer.
Prepare a List of Questions
Whether you’re having an office visit, home visit, or virtual visit, prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the doctor.
What are the health conditions that are troubling you the most? Do you have any pains, rashes, or lumps that weren’t there before, have gotten worse, or have yet to be addressed by the doctor? Write a list of 3 to 5 of your most concerning issues and address them at the beginning of the appointment.
Stick to the point when discussing these issues. If you are constipated, tell them how long it has lasted and whether there are any dietary or lifestyle changes that could be causing your problems. Don’t take them on a long and winding journey that lists everything you eat and describes, in detail, how regular your bowel habits used to be.
It has been estimated that as many as 81% of patients lie to their doctors, and this seems to be more common in older adults. They lie about many of the same things, as well. For instance, while most patients are forthcoming about their bowel habits and sleeping patterns, they don’t hesitate to lie about how much they drink, whether or not they smoke or take drugs, and how much exercise they get.
It’s okay to tell a few white lies to friends and family members if you don’t want to worry them, but your doctor is the last person you should be lying to! Imagine their shock if they believe they’re speaking to a drug-free, non-smoker who eats a 100% vegan diet and exercises daily, but has poor lung capacity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
They have your medical records and your test results. They know what’s really going on, and if you want genuinely helpful advice, you need to be 100% upfront.
Talk about Side Effects
Many patients have concerns about the side effects of their medication(s), but this is something they may not discuss with their doctor. If you have any concerning side effects from a prescribed medication, tell your doctor. Similarly, if you’re worried about how you will react to a new medication, ask them about the risks involved.
Serious side effects are very rare, but they do occur. When they do, you may need urgent care, so it’s important to understand the risks and the warning signs in advance.
Your doctor may make several recommendations during your appointment, addressing medical conditions and health concerns, booking tests, and discussing your next check-up. By the end of your appointment, you may be unclear on some of this advice.
When your appointment reaches its conclusion, ask for clarification on what you need to do, what changes you should make, and what needs to happen before your next appointment. Do they recommend any additional care services, are there any healthy living tips that can improve your physical or mental health, and is there anything you should stop eating, taking, or doing?
Are There Alternative Doctor Appointment Options?
Some patients struggle to make it to their doctor’s visits and others struggle to make it through to the end, perhaps because they have extreme anxiety or mobility problems. In such cases, doctors can recommend alternative telehealth options, whereby your appointments are conducted over the phone or the computer, as opposed to an in-person visit.
With a video visit, which can be conducted through the camera and microphone on a laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone, healthcare providers can conduct a face-to-face visit and address any issues you have without requiring you to visit the doctor’s office.
Telemedicine might be a little too high-tech for some older adults, and the fear of getting to grips with this process can be just as daunting as a long and painful trek to the clinic. That said, it offers numerous benefits and is incredibly easy. Speak with your primary care provider about telehealth options and discuss the ways that this technology can benefit you.