Do you ever leave your doctor’s office feeling like you forgot to ask about something important? These tips can help you leave your doctor’s office feeling more informed and more in control of your health care.
First, do you have a good relationship with your doctor?
- Does communication flow both ways?
- Can you express your concerns without interruption?
- Do you feel comfortable discussing treatment and tests?
- Do you feel comfortable telling your doctor that you are hesitant to follow a recommendation because of expense, lifestyle or cultural differences?
If you’re thinking of finding a new doctor, try some of these relationship builders first.
- Doctors are not mind-readers. Only you know best what you’re feeling. Before your visit, practice describing your symptoms and concerns as clearly and concisely as possible. Keep a journal of symptoms or make a list that you can bring to your appointment.
- If you don’t understand what your providers are saying, ask them to clarify.
- Bring along a family member or friend as your back-up “ears.”
- Bring a recorder, so you can play back your visit later to make sure you didn’t mishear anything.
Remember, you are paying doctors for advice, treatment, education and knowledge. So don’t hesitate to ask that of them.
Ask questions, lots of questions!
If a doctor suggests a treatment, ask:
- Why, and what the expected outcomes are
- How much to take and for how long
- If it's covered by insurance and if not, how much it costs
- What side effects you might expect
If a doctor suggests a medical test, ask:
- Why you need it
- How it is performed
- What the benefits will be
- If there are alternatives
- When you can expect to hear results
- If you should phone the office for results, or if the office or testing facility will notify you
In these times of shorter appointments with healthcare providers, the better you communicate with each other, the more valuable the time you spend together will be.