Often it is necessary to see a doctor - or several - in order uncover the cause of a troubling symptom or confirm a suspected diagnosis. Through early detection and appropriate treatment, disease progression and potential adverse consequences can often be avoided. Some conditions are life-threatening and require emergency treatment even though the danger may not be apparent to the patient.
Five Practical Tips to Get More from Your Doctor - UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine (November 2, 2008)
"Patients (or their advocates) who talk to physicians about their beliefs, values, lifestyle and concerns can get better results from their health-care experience."
With evidence showing that proactive patients tend to get more effective and efficient care, a report in Newswise details how a patient can get the information they need and the outcome they desire in a 15-minute doctor's office visit.
Often, people leave their doctor's office with more questions than answers, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine who are looking at how patients can get more of what they need from the health-care system. They have found that patients (or their advocates) who talk to physicians about their beliefs, values, lifestyle and concerns can get better results from their health-care experience.
Pignone offered some tips for becoming what he calls a "pleasantly assertive" patient, so that patients' health-care providers can better help them. The following are excerpts:
1. Prepare for your visit. "It might seem silly, but it's really helpful to write down your symptoms, complaint or problem, then summarize it into a couple of sentences," Pignone said. "Bring your list and your summary with you to the visit. This one step can make visits 25 percent to 50 percent more effective."
2. Have an agenda. "Before your appointment, decide what you want from the visit," Pignone recommends. "For instance, if you're suffering back pain, you might want to know what is causing the pain as well as a treatment plan for getting better. Make sure you share that with your doctor at the very beginning of your visit. It might feel funny at first, but your doctor will appreciate it."
3. Know your medical history and medications.
4. Tell your provider about your values or lifestyle preferences that could affect your treatment.
5. Clarify the decision to be made. "Sometimes you're offered several options, so be sure you understand the alternatives and if you don't, ask for clarification.
"The sicker you are, the more this matters," Pignone said. "But it's harder to do. If you're not comfortable interacting this way, involve other people who support you in your life to come with you and play this role."
A report from The Analyst will go a long way to help you prepare for your next visit.