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Home > Health Library > Making the Most of Your Appointment
Many people are more satisfied with their health care if they share the responsibility with their doctors. Your doctor is an expert on medical care, but you are the expert on yourself. Often there is more than one option for diagnosing or treating a condition. By being a partner with your doctor, you can help choose the option that best fits your values, beliefs, and lifestyle. You also will feel more confident about carrying out the chosen treatment.
Here are some tips for being a good partner with your doctor:
During your appointment, you will need to answer some important questions so that you and your doctor can plan your care together. Completing the appropriate forms before the appointment helps you provide correct and complete information, take an active role in your health care decisions, and make the most of your limited appointment time.
Choose the form that best describes your reason for seeing the doctor.
Reason for appointment
Form to complete
A new problem or symptom
Appointment for a New Problem
Follow-up to a previous problem
First appointment with this doctor
Your Family Medical History
Appointment for an ongoing health problem
Regular Checkup for a Lifelong Condition
Appointment for a child who is healthy
Regular Checkup for a Child
Do you take medicines?
If you take prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including herbal remedies or vitamins, bring all your medicines with you to any appointment with a doctor. If you cannot bring the medicines, bring a list of the medicines that you take.
You might also bring a copy of your daily medicine schedule. Your doctor can review the best times of the day to take each medicine and prevent unwanted side effects or interactions between drugs, supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
If you and your doctor are going to discuss a new medicine, medical test, surgery, or special treatment, choose a form from the following list. Then fill in your information, and take the form with you to your visit. Completing the form will help you understand the importance of the treatment your doctor is advising for your health condition. If you do not have the form at the time of your visit, complete the form at home after the visit.
Also, bring a copy of your health plan's list of covered prescription drugs. This list is also known as a formulary.
Follow the instructions your doctor gave you, including filling a prescription, scheduling tests, or making another appointment. Call your doctor if you still have questions or if there is anything you do not understand.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems or symptoms that concern you. Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety.
Update the medical records that you keep at home, including new test results and medicine changes. For more information, see the topic Organizing Your Medical Records.
Other Works Consulted
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2011). 20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors. Patient Fact Sheet (AHRQ Publication No. 11-0089). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/20tips.pdf.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (accessed November 2012). Questions are the answer: Better communication. Better care. Available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/questions.
Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Becoming a responsible health care consumer. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 453–484. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rakel RE (2011). Establishing rapport. In RE Rakel, DP Rakel, eds., Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed., pp. 146–165. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Ritter RH, et al. (2011). Interviewing techniques. In RE Rakel, DP Rakel, eds., Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed., pp. 166–175. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Wallace M (2010). Older adult. In CL Edelman, CL Mandle, eds., Health Promotion Throughout the Life Span, 7th ed., pp. 619–647. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of:
February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Catherine D. Serio PhD - Behavioral HealthAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Catherine D. Serio PhD - Behavioral Health & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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