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How to Prepare for Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

by Jeff Dailey
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How to Prepare for Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

Tseniorcomputerhe average doctor’s visit takes about 7 minutes. In some cities, that is less than the time you spend waiting on line at the supermarket. Between the exchange of greetings and the exam, often there is little time to ask all of your questions or have a detailed conversation about your health. How to Prepare for Your Next Doctor’s Appointment
Yet, ensuring you have a complete understanding of your diagnosis and/or any medications you’ve been prescribed before you leave your doctor’s office is important for everyone, especially older Americans who may visit several doctors and have multiple conditions.
Lynne Nowak, M.D., a medical director at Express Scripts, offers the following advice to help you make the most of your time with your doctor, and ensure you leave the office with a solid understanding about your health.
Prepare for your visit: First, compile a complete list of the medications you currently take and share it with your doctor. If you’ve started a new medication that was prescribed by a different doctor, be sure to communicate that to all of the healthcare professionals in your circle of care. Second, make a list of questions for your doctor in advance, and be sure to ask the harder, more important questions first. If you run out of time, you can ask the general questions of the nursing or office staff. Lastly, if you are expecting your doctor to discuss lab or blood test results, call the office before your visit to confirm they have received the results.
Be an engaged patient: Take notes. If you are concerned about being upset or forgetting what your doctor tells you, bring a loved one or a friend to be an extra set of ears. Also, ask your doctor to clarify or re-explain the information if you have trouble understanding their instructions.
Be comfortable with your treatment: Medications are supposed to help you, so ask your doctor if there are any aspects of a treatment that might hinder you from taking it, such as the cost or the size of the pill. Also, be sure to let your doctor know about any side effects you may be having, even if they are minor. Don’t wait until your next appointment to inform your doctor of side effects, and always call them to alert them of new side effects to be sure they are ‘normal.’
Tell the truth: Be honest with your doctor about your symptoms or concerns you might have about your health. It’s sometimes easier to downplay your situation or dismiss some information as irrelevant. Having all the details of your condition(s) will help your doctor determine the best treatment and provide the best care.
Get a second opinion: If your doctor says something that seems wrong, you should ask about it. Doctors are human too, and they sometimes make mistakes. If you are still questioning your diagnosis or course of treatment, get a second opinion. You’ll find that most doctors encourage and support second opinions.
Doctors are extremely busy; however, your health is very important to them. Although limitless time with doctors would be ideal, there’s not much that can be done to extend the length of your appointment. Take the time to follow some of these suggestions to ensure you get the most out of your doctor’s visit.
To stay up-to-date with the latest health news, including Medicare, please visit http://www.roadmapformedicare.com/. Also, you can sign up for free newsletter from Express Scripts Medicare providing health, Medicare and retirement tips by visiting http://www.roadmapformedicare.com/sign-up/.

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