If something is seriously wrong, BE CLEAR! Tell them if you need to be seen sooner than offered-you’ll probably be surprised, (if you have a real need). Still not satisfied? – Ask the scheduler to check with the nurse or doctor.
Arrive early: don’t be late. (Inside scoop -never told to patients -it is not uncommon to schedule two patients at a time, the earliest gets seen first). Avoid backlog by opting for the first appointment of the day, or the first one after lunch.
2. Limit your chief complaint.
Try to limit your reason to be seen to one issue; tell the appointment scheduler if you intend to discuss issues requiring more time. Don’t try to discuss family planning or a cholesterol treatment plan when they’ve scheduled a brief time for your chief complaint of a sore throat.
3. Be your own detective: identify what is amiss.
Be specific about what you perceive in your body and what evidence you have that something is wrong. Then, be prepared to state what, where, when, how long, what makes it worse, what makes it better, if you have had success treating it and what exact medicines you’ve taken.
For example, “For three weeks I’ve had a burning pain, right here (pointing to soft space between lower rib cage) especially after I drink coffee, and it is worse when I lie down. It feels better for a little while when I eat or take antacids, and an empty stomach makes it worse.” There you just saved ten minutes of your allotted time and are more likely to receive satisfaction.
4. Answer questions mindfully.
Don’t just agree because it is asked; physicians purposely throw in red herrings to gather information. “Does it hurt behind your eyeballs when you urinate?” a Harvard physician earnestly asks in such situations. If “yes,” patient reports were usually considered suspect and “unreliable historian” was documented in the chart. Be as clear and thoughtful as possible about your answers.
5. “What is the plan?”
Healthcare providers are trained to think ahead. A backup plan should exist for addressing the problem; it may be a follow-up visit with a more aggressive treatment (if the first approach doesn’t work) or, a referral to a specialist. Simply put, expect a plan: if it doesn’t exist, you are not getting good care.
That’s a little inside scoop on how to have a successful visit to your healthcare provider.