Six Tips for Your Doctor’s Appointment
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: January 2011. | Last updated: May 2023
A doctor’s appointment is your chance to see a professional who is there to help you. They have your best interests at heart. Do you?
Of course, you do! But have you ever considered that there might be a better way to get optimal results from your appointments?
Bring someone with you
Bring a personal health advocate with you to your appointments. A personal health advocate is a nice name for someone you trust that comes into the room with you — a friend, neighbor, relative. Their job is to help you and help your doctor by remembering things, taking notes, and even verifying that what you are telling the doctor is factual. They also hold your hand and give you confidence so you are not alone among other things. When you have a doctor with little bedside manner, they will often try harder when someone else is with you. If a personal advocate isn't available to help you, consider a personal recording device, but be considerate and let the doctor know you are recording your session for your own future reference.
Why are you visiting?
Write down the reasons for your visit — all of them — and be sure to address these at the beginning of the appointment. Do not wait until the end of the appointment and suddenly *mention* something new.
Ask until there's understanding
Hold a conversation with your doctor. Ask the questions you have and make sure you understand the answers. Keep asking questions if needed until you are confident in what the doctor tells you.
Keep track of tests and results
Always write down any tests that the doctor is ordering so you can be sure that they are done and that results are received for them by the doctor and by you. Sometimes things can be missed, and this is a good way to keep on top of things the busy doctor might not be able to. You'll probably be surprised how many things get lost in the shuffle.
Keep paper records
Always ask for paper copies of all your lab and imaging reports. If you can get copies of your doctor's notes, that is also helpful, but you and your doctor's office should maintain lab reports. Each time blood work or images are ordered, you'll want to contact the office and ask for the original results to be faxed to you, or stop in and ask for a paper copy of them about ten days to 2 weeks after the test has been completed. Keep these copies in a 3-ring binder or file folder for future reference. Scanning them into a laptop or iPad is handy for you, but it is usually easier for your doctor in paper form.
Form relationships with office staff
Make friends with the office staff — they are at least as important to your health care experience as the doctor themself. It may sound silly, but remember them during holidays and other times, and they will remember you fondly and often will work harder for you because they think of you as a pleasant patient or even a friend.