Come prepared so all your questions are answered…
The great thing about doctors is that we’re trained to prioritize your lists and use the information to help guide your care and treatment plan. Here’s what you can do to move things along:
1) Make a list of what you want to discuss
Be sure to prioritize your concerns to the best of your ability so that you put the most important symptoms you’re having that worry you. Try to keep the list short, but even if it’s longer, your doctor will help you to prioritize it form most worrisome to least.
2) Write down the recommendations your doctor gives you
Summarize the key things your doctor recommends as part of your treatment—stuff that’s separate from your medications. You can even ask your doctor to mail you a copy of your Progress Note for that office visit. Many practices are now using Electronic Medical Record (EMR) documentation templates for your visit on that particular day. A copy of this can help you stay on track with the treatment regimen. Usually it has to be mailed since even with an EMR, most docs don’t get them completed until late in the afternoon or evening on the day of your appointment.
3) Have your doctor print a copy of your labs, imaging studies, and medication list
This way you can take the information home with you to keep on file and take the most recent information with you to appointments with any specialists. Also make sure your actual medications match up with the list on your EMR. If they don’t, give your doctor’s office a call to tell them about the discrepancy. (Side note: always carry a small copy of your medication and allergy list with you. Put it in your wallet and have it easily accessible if you have to go to an emergency room. A brief medical history of major surgeries, accidents, or hospitalizations is also helpful.)
4) Don’t overwhelm your doc
A list of 25 or more complaints (trust me, I once had a patient with a list 50 items long) will guarantee that none of them receive adequate attention. Usually your appointment is for a specific issue such as a lab review or follow-up, so make sure your list corresponds to that issue. If you’ve had a rash for 30 years and it hasn’t changed, then talking about that at an initial visit is not a wise thing to do. Save those items for your annual checkups.
5) No oh-by-the-way’s
Docs actually call this the “reaching for the door handle” phenomenon. This is not the time to tell your doctor that you’ve been having exertional chest pain with shortness of breath—and oh yeah, a couple of times they were so bad you passed out. That should be #1 on your list!
So I hope these two posts have given you a better understanding about why appointment times have shortened, and why sometimes you may have to wait considerable periods to see your doctor for only 10 minutes. Remember, as well, that you can always call ahead and ask the receptionist how late your doctor is running. If it’s more than 30 minutes, let them know that you’re going to run some errands before your appointment. Most offices have no problem with that approach—you shouldn’t get bumped to the back of the line as long as they know you’re coming in.
Maximize Your 10-Minute Doc Visit – Come prepared so all your questions are answered – By Brian Gedeon, M.D. Men’s Health Online.