“It is important for patients to be prepared for what they want to accomplish,” said Dr. Randy Fedro, a primary care physician with Bon Secours Medical Group’s Patient Choice based in Norfolk, Virginia. Efficient time use has become an important issue as national trends show that primary care physicians are spending less and less time interacting directly with their patients. However, a small amount of preparation before making the trip to the doctor’s office can help patients get the most out of their face time.
To help patients prepare for a visit to the doctor, Fedro suggests that patients:
- Write down questions in order of importance. A list can help you make sure that you cover all the important health questions with your doctor.
- Make a list of all current medications, allergies and health history. In order to give you the best care, your physician needs to have an understanding of your medical history. With this information he/she can make more informed recommendations about your health.
- Bring along a significant other for the young, elderly or for a serious condition. Another pair of ears never hurts. These patients should have an advocate, a close friend or family member who is informed on their medical history, to help them address and manage health issues.
- Be on time for your appointment. Doctors offices are running on tight schedules. By showing up on time you guarantee that you’ll be able to get the most time possible during your visit without slowing down other patients who also need to be seen.
- Take notes. Sometimes discussions about health can be overwhelming. Patients should feel free to take a notepad with them into physician meetings to write down specific advice, medication instructions, or appointment times and phone numbers.
And don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions, said Fedro. At Bon Secours, patients have access to their medical information and test and lab results as part of the MyChart function of our ConnectCare electronic medical records system. This also makes emailing questions to your physician simple.
Quality health care takes teamwork and communication, said Fedro.
So what would he like patients to know? “Diet and exercise are very important,” said Fedro. “And it’s essential to get regular checkups annually. People who think they’re healthy should still get colonoscopies, blood work, pap smears, mammograms and other maintenance exams to be sure everything’s right.”
If you always leave the doctor’s office angry or frustrated with the lack of communication, it is probably time for you to find a physician who listens to you. A good relationship with a primary care physician is especially important. Your family doctor can help ensure that you receive the most comprehensive and cohesive care available, and, when necessary he or she can also help you find the best specialists and surgeons available in your region.