As it is today, a doctor’s appointment can last as little as 10-15 minutes. This means every patient needs to be prepared to ask questions and make sure they get the right treatment at the right time. Here are 5 tips that you can start implementing now that will make a doctor’s visit much more efficient.
- Know your medications: keeping a list of your medications and providing your doctor with this information during the visit is extremely valuable. Trying to remember your medications on the spot can easily take 5 minutes of your visit. Medication errors and interactions are common sources of health complications in this country. It is important that you add to that list the over the counter drugs and supplements.
- Make a list of the important questions for the doctor the night prior to the appointment: for some people, a doctor’s visit can be a stressful event. This can easily make you forget the questions that you wanted to ask and make you concentrate on tangential topics that are not as important.
- Know who you are talking to: if you are in the Gastroenterologist office, do not talk to him about your toe pain or arthritis. I can tell you that you will lose his attention at that point in time; he only cares about your diarrhea, abdominal pain, colonoscopy etc.
- Stick to a maximum of 2-3 problems/issues per visit: Try to concentrate on the 2 symptoms or concerns that are the most important for you. If you try to address more than 2-3 issues, the quality of how each of those is approached will go down.
- Have control of your own medical records: information is power! Not every doctor that you visit runs an organized operation. Some still even use paper charts…having your medical records at hand will guarantee that every treating physician has an accurate history of your medical problems, treatments, surgeries, allergies and hospitalizations. This will not only speed the process but it will decrease the risk of medical errors. You could have all your records saved in a flash drive.
The way that health care is delivered in the United States will most likely change in the near future. Without a doubt, there will be a tough transition period. Being a smart and proactive patient will help you thrive during this process.
Dr. Juan Rivera is a board certified Internist and Cardiologist. He is the Director of Cardiovascular Prevention at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, FL and National Medical Correspondent for Telemundo Network” You can reach Dr. Rivera on Twitter at @drjuanjr.