Tips on What to Do Before Your Health Care Appointment

What you do leading up to your health care appointment can improve communication with your doctor. Better communication can help you stay as healthy as you can.

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1. Find information to help you understand your health condition, symptoms or treatment choices.

Sometimes you know what illness or medical condition you have before an appointment. Other times you might only know your symptoms. Either way, it helps to gather information before you see your doctor. The internet is a great resource, but it's also full of unreliable websites.  Your health plan and public library are also good resources.

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2. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask during your visit, and bring a copy for your doctor.

The information you find may raise more questions than it answers. While having this information might feel like it adds to your confusion, instead think of it as feeding your curiosity. What you learn can give you a better idea of what you and your doctor may need to talk about. Visit the Questions Are the Answer website at www.ahrq.gov/questions for more on how and why to ask questions.

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3. Make a list of all the things you want to tell or show your doctor.

What you include on your list will vary depending on your health condition and the reasons for your visit. For example, you can write down your symptoms and when they started, or describe your top challenges in managing a chronic disease.

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4. Bring a list of all medications you are currently taking.

This list includes all prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies. To provide safe and appropriate care, your doctors and other health professionals need to know everything you're taking.

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5. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to your appointment.

This can be a great help and comfort during your appointment, especially if you are having serious health problems or feeling confused, concerned or overwhelmed. In addition to giving you emotional support, this person you trust can help you listen carefully, ask good questions and take notes.

You may have even more ideas that can help communication with your doctor. Try them out and share ideas with your friends, family and health care team.

 

Own Your Health is a campaign presented by the Puget Sound Health Alliance to empower consumers to become active participants in their own health and health care; Bureau of Minoirty Health; Mid-south Foundation; Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals