The national average frequency for doctor visits is about four times a year, but patients can play a bigger role than just showing up to ensure they are getting the care they need. Patients may leave the doctor’s office confused or overwhelmed, especially if they are facing a new treatment or diagnosis. Appointments can be brief, leaving you little time with the doctor to ask questions, discuss alternative treatments, and ease worries. It is vital to your health that you and your doctor practice good communication during these visits to ensure that you have all the information you need.
One way patients can help themselves during doctor appointments is to practice self-advocacy. This concept of speaking up for yourself and your interests can help ensure you get everything you need from your doctor for better health care. This article can help patients understand self-advocacy and provide tips on how to practice this concept during appointments.
To advocate for yourself in a doctor’s office, it’s important to find the right doctor, especially if it’s a primary care physician. Facilitating a relationship with a primary care doctor can help improve patient care by allowing the doctor to get to know you, prescribe preventative care, and improve your overall lifestyle.
The following tips can help you find the right doctor for your needs:
To make the most out of your doctor’s appointment, it is essential to ensure you are prepared beforehand. This applies as much to patients who are seeing a doctor for the first time, as to those who have been with the same doctor for years. Here are a few best practices to prepare for your doctor appointment:
Since patients can feel overwhelmed with information during doctor appointments, some information may be forgotten after they leave. By taking notes during the appointment, you can double-check the information with the doctor while it’s fresh in your mind. Some examples of what to take note of are as follows:
Additionally, you can ask for copies of your scans or test results. That way, you can look back on any information that might later be confusing. Lastly, if you don’t think you can write notes during your appointment, consider bringing a friend or family to help.
Recent studies show that 60-80% of patients are not fully honest with their doctors. Patients lie to their doctors for many reasons, including:
However, lying for these reasons could lead to serious consequences. Not telling your doctor everything could lead to them prescribing medications that could negatively affect other medications or treatments. Here are a few examples of what you should consider telling your doctor during your appointment:
While some may see this as too much information, it is vital that your doctor know your lifestyle and habits to give you the care you need.
Asking questions is another important part of your doctor’s appointment. During a visit, there is a lot of information being exchanged, most of which is confusing and overwhelming. If you ask questions during the appointment, you have the chance to truly comprehend medical jargon, treatments, and medication.
Here are some examples of questions to ask during your doctor appointment:
While this is not an exhaustive list of questions, they are a good starting point to begin conversations with your doctor.
Practicing self-advocacy during doctor appointments can help create a space that patients feel comfortable in as well as allow them to have a participating role in their health care. By asking questions, taking notes, being honest, and preparing for the appointment, patients can get the treatment they deserve and need.