How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment
One of the sources of difficulty with the US medical system is that you’re often left on your own. Going to a doctor’s appointment can be challenging, even for people who are informed—which is why many people are now choosing to work with advocates. Here’s how you can get the most out of seeing your doctor.
Before the appointment
Take the time to gather your medical history (link to Solace article). This should include your medical records, gathered from the different healthcare providers you’ve worked with, as well as your family medical history. Knowing the specifics matters here—not just if a family member was diagnosed with cancer, but what type, when, and the outcome can be critically important. Also ensure that you have written down the medications you’re currently taking, as well as your medication history. If it sounds overwhelming, helping with this is something that many advocates specialize in.
During the appointment
Make sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early. While it can be frustrating to wait, it will give the team time to take your medical history and vitals, and more importantly, it will ensure that you don’t miss your slot and have to wait until much later for the doctor to squeeze you in.
When you see your doctor, it’s critical to take notes to ensure you remember everything they say. Many patients now record their appointments so they can review them later; just make sure to ask your doctor’s permission. If you don’t correctly remember the medical information your doctor provides, it will be much harder for you to get the best healthcare and outcome possible. For example, you may struggle to properly follow doctors’ recommendations, make decisions regarding your treatment options, and take medications in appropriate doses.
After the appointment
As you wrap up your time with the doctor, it’s essential that you receive a written overview of the decisions made, what you were diagnosed with, what the doctor recommended, and what next steps are. You should also review your own notes to ensure that your questions were answered, and most importantly, that any pieces of uncertainty are identified and followed up on. Were you made aware of any tradeoffs associated with your treatment or protocol? Were there any options that the doctor presented that were evaluated and credible, and even though not ultimately chosen, should be brought up in another appointment or second opinion? Do you understand the consequences of your treatment, along with the downside risks in the upcoming short and long term?
Ultimately, the goal is to get to the best outcome possible, even in a challenging situation. Overwhelmed? An advocate can help. Find the one right for you on Solace.
Sara has led creative, brand, marketing and product teams for some of the fastest-growing startups in the U.S. She has written for multiple billionaires, international NBA stars and Nobel Prize winners and is brought to you mostly by multiple shots of espresso, administered daily.