Visiting the doctor can be a little nerve-wracking for many people. Sometimes it seems like the entire doctor's appointment goes by in a blur, and once you leave you realize you forgot to ask your doctor about your specific medical concerns and questions. By planning how you will approach your doctor's visit ahead of time, you can avoid this problem and ensure a much more successful and stress-free doctor visit.
Here are five tips that could help make your next doctor visit more productive and successful:
Double Check Your Insurance
Always double check that your doctor accepts your health insurance before your appointment. This is especially important if this is a new doctor, or you've recently changed health insurance companies. Even if you have the same insurance and are seeing your regular primary care physician, it's a good idea to double check as doctor offices do need to change which insurance policies they accept from time to time.
Taking a moment to call the front desk or check your doctor's website will save you the hassle of getting all the way to your appointment only to learn your insurance isn't accepted. If your insurance is considered "out of network," ask what you need to do to get your payment reimbursed.
Bring a List of Medications
Sometimes it's hard to remember the exact names and dosages of your medications when your doctor asks, so it's a smart idea to come prepared with a written list.
In addition to prescription medication, include all supplements, over-the-counter sleep aids, and pain medication, etc. It's important for your doctor to know everything you are taking because of medication interactions and side effects, but also because taking over-the-counter medication frequently can be an indication of a growing medical concern.
Keep a Journal of Your Symptoms
One of the best ways to get the most out of your next doctor visit is to start keeping a journal of your symptoms in the weeks leading up to your appointment. Each time you experience symptoms (such as pain or dizziness, for example) jot it down in your journal along with a few details for context. Include the time of day, your location, and anything you've had to eat.
Keeping a symptom journal in this manner can help you and your doctor spot patterns and identify triggers for your symptoms, leading to more effective medical treatment.
Consider Jotting Down Notes
If you tend to get nervous at the doctor's office and forget what you planned to ask, it's a great idea to jot down a few notes or record them on your smartphone and bring them with you. You can read from them or even hand the notes to your nurse or doctor if that seems easiest. Concerns that you may want to list include things like increasing joint pain, frequent headaches, changes to your bathroom routine, unusual mood changes, or anything that has you worried or concerned.
Plan to Be Honest
Always remember that your doctor is there to help you, not to judge you. The more honest you are, the more thorough, accurate and effective their medical advice and suggestions will be.
When your doctor asks about your alcohol and drug usage, your stress level, your dietary choices, etc., it's very important to answer honestly instead of giving the answers that you think will make you look best. Keep in mind that your doctor visit is completely confidential, and your doctor has already heard and seen everything before.
With a little planning, you can make your next doctor's visit much more productive and less nerve-wracking. Do you have your own strategy for getting the most out of doctor visits? Let us know in the comments!