Aker Kasten Blog

Tips to Make the Most of your Doctor Visit

by: John Aker | July 3rd, 2013

We have all experienced the frustration:  you aren’t feeling well…you call your doctor’s office for an appointment…you have to wait weeks to be scheduled…you exhaust yourself getting ready, driving, parking, walking into the office…have to fill out the same forms you filled out at your last visit…pull out your identification and Medicare cards…sit and wait in the waiting room…finally get called back to an exam room…and wait, and wait, and wait for the doctor to finally come see you. Male Patient iStock_000016282175_ExtraSmall

Then, the doctor is in and out of the exam room in what seems like a few minutes and you feel like it was all a blur.  Did I even ask my questions?  Did she hear me when I spoke of my pain?  What did the doctor advise?  Am I supposed to continue that medication?

In this day of 10-15 minute doctor visits, many of us leave the doctor’s office with more questions than answers at times.  And the whole experience can be a bit maddening.  But it doesn’t have to be this way!  While many experts are working at changing the way primary care physicians run their practices, for now we have to make the best of the situation.

An important part of our Concierge Care Team concept at Aker Kasten Home Health Care is that our clients each have a designated Concierge Care Manager who ensures that a caregiver or staff nurse accompanies you to doctor’s appointments to help you with the items below and ensures any directives from your physician are clear and helps you comply with them once you are back home!  (This service is available at no additional charge to our in-home care clients.)

Here are some tips that your Concierge Care Manager will help you follow to make the most of your time with your physician:

1)  Be Prepared.

o     Keep a Symptom Diary and include information like dates, times, frequency and severity of your complaints (your caregiver can assist you with keeping this log).

o     Jot down questions you want answered by the doctor.  If the list is long, keep in mind you may need to schedule a follow-up visit.

o     Bring a bag of your medications, supplements, and vitamins or an up-to-date list that includes drug names, dosage, and frequency of use.

 2)  Gather Information.

o     Take notes or record (with permission) what the doctor has to say–your Concierge Care Manager will do this for you.  This allows you to review the details with caregivers and family members after the visit.

o     Pick up written materials, such as patient information sheets, from the doctor’s office about health conditions or treatments as applicable.

 3)  Work on the Relationship (effective communication is crucial to building a good working relationship and trust with your doctor).

o     Set a realistic agenda together at the start of the visit.

o     Listen to the doctor.  Even if what is being discussed is unpleasant to hear.

o     Be honest about your compliance (or lack thereof) with previously prescribed treatments and therapies.

4)  Leave with An Action Plan.

o     Know what meds are started and why

o     Know what problems or side effects warrant a call to the office

o     Know what tests have been ordered and why

o     Know when to schedule the next appointment

o     Know how, when, and why to check in with the doctor next

5)  Follow Up on Test Results.

Don’t assume no news is good news.  Think of the incredible amount of information coming in and out of a doctor’s office–phone calls, insurance company paperwork, test results, appointment rescheduling–things can fall through the cracks.  So if you don’t hear back about your test results, your Concierge Care Manager will call.  Better still, during your visit they’ll ask how the office will report test results, when you should expect information and who to contact in the office if you haven’t heard.

6)  Be Polite.

It is easy to take your frustrations and anxieties out on the physician or their staff.  If you have a genuine concern or complaint about how the office runs or how you’ve been treated, put it in writing and send to the office manager or directly to the doctor.  Likewise, if someone in the office has gone the extra mile for you, do let them know you appreciate their care.

 

All these tips might seem a bit overwhelming.  If it does, do not fret–just call your Concierge Care Manager and ask them to help you schedule and plan for your doctor’s visit.  With your caregiver and Concierge Care Manager on your side, you can be assured that your doctor’s visit experience will be a bit less frustrating and you might even see better results afterward with your whole team working with you!

-adapted from Caring.com article by Sarah Henry, 2008

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