According to a study by The Physicians Foundation, over 80 percent of doctors say the “most satisfying” aspect of their job is the personal patient relationship. The unfortunate reality, however, is that because primary care physicians are in such short supply, doctors have less time to spend one-on-one with patients developing these relationships. Dr. Paul Griner, author of “The Power of Patient Stories: Learning Moments in Medicine,” proposes that it is up to the patient to take further responsibility and offers 10 tips to make the best use of your doctor’s appointment.
1. Prepare your thoughts ahead of time. Have a goal in mind for what you want from the visit and be as precise and accurate as possible with all your questions, symptoms and background information.
2. Know your symptoms. What are they? When did they begin? What were you doing at the time? How are they affected by activity or rest? What makes them worse? Have you been able to find any relief? How do they affect daily activities?
3. Medications. Bring your medications, or a list of them, with you.
4. Be on time or early. Give your doctor’s team of nurses and assistants time to obtain your medical history or perform preliminary tests, as their functions are an important aspect of the overall quality of the visit. View the wait as valuable personal time for reading and relaxation.
5. Medical history. Bring copies of the results of tests or procedures from other physicians.
6. Research your health concerns ahead of time. Use reliable research, including www.mayoclinic.com or www.uptodate.com; information from the well-established and respected organizations such as the National Cancer Society; and written materials such as the Harvard Health Letter.
7. Wear clothes that make it easy for you to be examined.
8. Avoid unnecessary office visits. Many issues can be resolved by e-mail, Skype, or new technology (such as the iPhone recording and transmission of your EKG).
9. Let your doctor know when you are using any complementary or alternative medicine.
10. Bring a spouse or other relative with you. When the problem is complicated, two pairs of ears are better than one for remembering what the doctor said.