Be a smart and well-informed patient when it comes to your health!
Patients have become more educated and are well informed these days when it comes to their health care and medical needs. Your relationship with your physician is a special and important one. There needs to be trust, honesty, and open communication for both to ensure the best outcomes are met and you’re getting the optimal care.
Here are a few tips so you and your physician will have a better relationship as well as make your appointment smooth and efficient for both of you.
1. Always take your Medications to your appointments.
This is important if you are a new patient to a new practice. If you are unable to take your medications, make a list. In fact, I encourage you to have multiple lists and keep them in various locations and let your family be aware of this especially in case of emergency. Also, update your primary care physician if you’ve been to the Emergency room, hospital or other specialists and they have added or changed your current regimen. This is important for us to keep up with. It’s hard when a patient says “I’m on a blood pressure pill” there are millions out there and doctors won’t know what “the small white pill” looks like. It also takes time away from you for us to be calling your pharmacy or your last physician to find out what new medication you’re currently on.
2. If you take medications, Take them!
Some patients “forget” or don’t take medications like blood pressure medicine before they come for their visit. This is a disservice to both providers and patients. Unless your physician tells you not to eat because they’re going to do a procedure in the morning, always take your medication! It’s hard to assess where you are and how you are doing if your blood pressure or blood glucose is through the roof. Sometimes, physicians want “fasting labs” but based on current evidence and data it’s not necessary to do a lipid screen or diabetes check fasting anymore. In fact, it’s more accurate if you have eaten.
3. Know your Medical History.
This is important especially for our aging population. Know what your allergies are, as well as your past medical history and surgical history. It’s important to be specific with your allergies because we don’t want to prescribe you something that could make you really sick. All this is important and helps physicians better evaluate you as a whole. You’d be surprised that a small fact from 30 years ago could make a big difference to your overall care. You should be knowledgeable about your medical problems especially when you are seeing new physicians or specialists who are completely unaware of your medical problems.
4. Technology is great
Thanks to smartphones and technology we are able to capture every moment. This shouldn’t be any different. If you have a rash, bump, lump, swelling or anything that is bothersome that you notice, take a picture. Physicians love this, we will think you’re super smart. What often happens is when you call to make an appointment you’re concerned about one thing, but the time you come, it may be gone. That’s probably a good sign; however, it shows us progress. This is also good after surgeries, to see how wounds are healing. A lot of physicians also have web-view and an email system so you can also email us pictures. We definitely appreciate your involvement in your care.
5. Be honest!
If you smoke, drink, do drugs, are involved in any high-risk behaviors ALWAYS let your provider know. Sometimes this is embarrassing for others to know but can dictate how we take care of you. If you fail to mention you did cocaine prior to your chest pain and we treat you with certain medication, we could make you worse. It’s better to be honest and always inform your physician what exactly is going on also with your symptoms. Remember you came to the doctor for the best care and we want to make sure you receive it!
6. Waiting is part of the game.
Unfortunately, there’s always a wait at your Doctor’s office. Even when we go to our own doctors, we are waiting! Be patient with the nursing staff, and your physician. They want to give you the same care they give everyone else. They don’t’ want to rush through seeing you. Sometimes, there’s a delay with surgical procedures or rounding on hospital patients while you’re waiting, just know that when they see you, you will get the same undivided attention you deserve.
7. Have realistic expectations!
Coming to your primary care physician after a 4-year hiatus and 7 new complaints and a routine physical and pap is unrealistic to be accomplished in one visit. I know life happens and you haven’t been to the doctor’s in a while, but it’s really hard for physicians to spend 1 hour on you when the allotted time is 15 minutes between appointments. Be considerate and choose the top 3 things you want to discuss with your provider and understand that they will address every situation, especially the important ones first. Your back pain may be really important to you but from a medical standpoint, we may be more worried that your blood pressure is through the roof or that your kidney function is worsening. We are not brushing off your complaints but prioritizing what’s important and what should come first. For a better relationship with your provider if you have numerous medical problems, try to come a few weeks apart to ensure all your medical questions and problems are addressed.