How To Prepare For A Visit To The Doctor

doctorConsumers of goods and services are being educated by different advocacy groups so that they make informed choices when buying goods and services. Navigating the healthcare industry is by no means an exception. There are those patients who are doing due diligence to ascertain a doctor’s experience and performance before engaging his service. It is not uncommon to see advertised peer-approved listings for specialist services.

How to prepare for a doctor’s appointment

  • Schedule an appointment.
  • Give your updated health insurance information.
  • Clarify whether there will be a co-payment and how much.
  • Plan to be punctual to avoid being rescheduled.
  • Write down your symptom(s) and note when you first noticed the same.
  • Reflect on the characteristics of each symptom(s); for example, a burning pain, a blinding headache etc.
  • Also note what worsens and what relieves/alleviates the symptom.
  • Write down questions. Remember to ask about possible side-effects from drugs and treatments. Also, ask for copies of results.
  • Remember you will need to use the time efficiently. Keep focused on the reason you are consulting.

What to expect from the doctor’s visit

No longer does the patient/client have a long time to sit with the doctor to expound on every minor symptom. It is important to prepare for the visit so as to maximize the limited time the MD will spend with you. In recent studies, this face-to-face consultation could be as little as 10 minutes.

One should expect the doctor to take a good history of the medical complaint. Information on previous treatment, diagnostics, surgeries, family history of diseases, and allergies are also important information that should be documented by the doctor.

A physical examination is conducted to gather additional information which will be used to form a provisional diagnosis. Lab investigations and diagnostic studies are then requested to confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment is administered and often times a prescription is given based on the provisional diagnosis. Pain, discomfort, and other debilitating symptoms should be alleviated.

 Samples of questions you may be asked during the interview

  • What’s wrong?
  • How long have you been feeling this way?
  • Are you having any pain? Where hurts? Can you describe the pain?
  • What brings on the pain? Is there anything that alleviates the pain?
  • Are there any other symptoms?
  • Have you taken any medication?

Reasons why a follow-up visit may be required

A follow-up visit may be indicated for the following reasons:

  • To assess progress with respect to clinical signs and symptoms
  • To evaluate the response to the treatment/medication
  • To advise on the need for additional diagnostics/procedures
  • To refer patient to a colleague specialist

Typically, the relationship with a doctor and his patients can be long term. It should be treated as a partnership in which there is mutual respect, trust, and reasonable expectations.

Seek clarification on any issue you need to have explained. Give honest and sincere feedback to your doctor. If you are unsure about any diagnosis or recommended therapy, then it is perfectly okay to seek a second opinion.

Readers Bureau Contributor