Think about how you feel when you walk into your doctor’s office for an appointment. Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you forget to ask a question or two that you had going in to the appointment? And what about after you leave – do you have a hard time remembering all the information that your doctor gave you?
If you answered “yes” to any of these points, we promise that you’re not alone. Even when your doctor actively spends more time with patients than the national average – 10 to 15 minutes – it's very easy to feel rushed or to want to stay quiet during an appointment. Unfortunately, because of this (and also partly because of how quickly we all tend to forget information), many patients admit that they often leave their doctor’s office feeling unsure about the information and instructions they were given.
This is something we actively want to avoid at Genesis Medical, as our #1 goal is to provide top-notch care and to create action plans that patients can actively use to live healthier lives. That’s why we’ve put together a list of things you can do to make your appointment with us more memorable, and more productive, for everyone involved:
1) Write down anything you want to discuss before you arrive for your appointment. It’s very easy to forget any questions you have for your doctor once you’re actually in their office; this is particularly true if your doctor begins discussing another health topic that you hadn’t even thought of before the appointment. But this should never deter you from asking any questions you wanted to ask! To ensure that we touch on anything of interest to you, try writing reminders down on a notepad or in your phone before your appointment; that way you’ll have them on hand during your visit. (You should also make a note to pass on information we don’t already have, such as an updated family medical history or information about any new medications you’re taking – this will help us do a better job of helping you!)
2) Take notes during your appointment. Don’t ever be embarrassed about taking notes while meeting with your doctor. Medical discussions can often be hard to remember after the fact, due to the amount of information that we want to pass on to our patients. Trust us: we would much rather slow down and let you write down pointers to review later, as opposed to skipping out on our advice entirely because you forgot it! We also invite you to ask your physician if it’s OK to record your discussions, if you’d rather not try to write and listen and actively talk to us at the same time.
3) Bring a friend or relative (or notes from them). Before your appointment, you may want to consider asking a friend or relative to come along with you. We’ve noticed that family and friends often think of good questions you had not thought to ask; they can also help take notes so that you can interact with us during your appointment more easily, but still remember all our advice and instructions. At the very least, it never hurts to ask friends if they’ve noticed any changes in behavior or in your health overall. They may very well mention something that you’ve missed, which you can then mention to us.
4) Engage with your doctor during an appointment. Sometimes patients find that it’s difficult to discuss certain health issues they’re experiencing with their doctor; other times they’re embarrassed to ask for clarification on a point that their doctor made during the exam. But even if a symptom may seem embarrassing, you don’t want to leave out any information during your appointment. The more facts we have, the easier it will be for us to help you. And even a rushed doctor would prefer to answer your questions, instead of sending you home confused about what we said or instructed. So please, ask plenty of questions if there’s anything at all you don’t understand what we’re saying to you during your appointment.
5) Don’t leave your doctor’s office unless you feel confident that you know what comes next. The best way to ensure that your doctor’s appointment was a success is to not leave unless you feel satisfied with the appointment. You should also feel confident about what to do next, and have a plan that you can put into action. If you’re not satisfied or confident at the end of an appointment, ask yourself why – and talk to us you we can help you take action to correct that issue.
Each of these points can help you make the most of your doctor’s appointment, thereby helping you live a healthier life between your exams. Of course, we understand that questions can arise at any time – so even if you were just in for an exam, if you have a question for us, please call your doctor’s office so that we can address your concerns and help you go about your day to day life.