Gustavus Human Resources Blog: Making the Most of Your Doctor Visit

Posted on August 1st, 2017 by

When visiting the doctor, it’s important to be prepared so you may take full advantage of the exam. Here are a few tips and questions to ask that will help you make the most of your doctor’s visit. With a little planning and the right questions, your doctor visit will provide you with the information needed to help you make the best decisions to take charge of your health.

Before your visit

  • Decide what you want. A diagnosis?  Reassurance or information about your condition? Something else?
  • Review the list of suggested questions and select the top 7-10 that relate to your specific reason for being at the doctor.
  • Prioritize your list and ask the most important questions first.
  • Gather any information you may need to save time: Medications in a bag, dosages, symptoms, relevant test results; your personal health record; something to write on and write with; your list of questions.
  • Bring someone with you for a second set of ears. If that’s not possible, write down suggestions from the doctor on a small tablet while you’re still in the office.  A recent study found that patients forget 80% of what the doctor told them as soon as they left the office.

Suggested questions

  • What do you think is causing my problem?
  • What tests are you ordering?  And why?
  • How good are the tests for diagnosing the problem and the conditions?
  • How safe are the tests?
  • How will this test/surgery/exam change my treatment?
  • Where will this test/surgery/exam be performed — at the hospital, at a surgery center or in the office — and how does that impact the price?
  • What are my treatment options? How effective is each treatment option? What are the benefits versus risks of each treatment option?
  • What is the likely course of this condition? What is the long-term outlook with and without treatment?
  • Are there cheaper alternatives that are equally good, or nearly so?  Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my condition?
  • How much will this cost?

Other things to consider

  • Who else will be involved in my treatment? Will I be getting a separate bill from another provider? Can you recommend someone in my insurance network?
  • Is medicine necessary? How does it work? Are there alternative treatments?
  • What are the side effects? Is long-term use harmful?
  • Are you aware of each of the medications that I am taking? Can they adversely interact with the medications you are prescribing for me?
  • What outcome should I expect?
  • Do we have to do this now, or can we revisit it later?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • What questions haven’t I asked that I should have?
  • Finally, be sure that you ask for resources to ensure you have what you need when you leave the office.


Information compilation compliments of NFP


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