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How to Get the Most out of Your Doctor’s Visits

How to Get the Most out of Your Doctor’s Visits

February 25, 2019

Every day in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people go to the doctor’s office. Statistics show that more than 80% of adults and 90% of children see at least one health care professional each year. What this means is that you will likely be making your own visit to a doctor in the near future. Whether your appointment is routine or a follow-up from an illness or surgery, a few simple steps can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visits.

Keep in mind the following:

  • You and your doctor are partners. Outcomes are better when patients and physicians work together toward a common goal: Your good health. It is important to talk about how you are feeling and what health issues you may be having. You also should not be afraid to ask questions. After all, you know what you are experiencing health wise better than anyone else. The more information doctors have about their patients, the better they can direct a course of treatment.
  • Prepare ahead of time for your visit. Write down your questions in advance. Make sure you include a list of medications and medical tests you have had since your last visit. If you have traveled outside the country, let your provider know that too. Older patients or those with multiple conditions may want to have someone go with them to the appointment since a second set of eyes and ears can be helpful.
  • Put together your own “health summary.” This could include: Primary and secondary emergency contacts, Health care Proxy (if you have one), active medical conditions, active medication list (including over-the-counter supplements and vitamins), allergies, other medication side effects, and family history. Share it with your doctor and let someone close to you know where to find it should you face an emergency.
  • Play an active role in your own health. In addition to keeping your information current and talking with your doctor, it is important that you follow the treatment recommendations you are given. While physicians do the screenings and prescribe treatments, the patient is responsible for prevention. Take your medications as directed and complete the course of those medications unless otherwise instructed. Make the recommended lifestyle modifications and always call the office if your health changes.


  • Arrive on time or early in case you need to update your paperwork.
  • Call ahead if you will be late (sometimes offices can adjust schedules).
  • Present your questions at the start of your appointment.
  • Do online research of health sites but ask your provider which sites he/she would recommend.

Do Not…

  • Withhold questions.
  • Be embarrassed by asking questions.
  • “No show” for your appointment, as that slot could be needed by another patient.

Do not forget, your medical appointment is important to you and your doctor, so be sure the time you spend together is productive and leads to better health!

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