Preparing for your doctor’s appointment

Research shows that you get the best health care when you prepare for your doctor’s visits.

Most people prepare for appointments and dates. You have an agenda for a meeting, you take a list to the grocery store, holiday dinners are planned for, and gift lists are created. However one of the most important appointments to prepare for is a doctor’s visit. Research shows that the most important way you can improve your health is to be an active member of your own health team. Michigan State University Extension works to provide information and education to improve people’s lives. One of the ways to improve your life and health is to know what to do before your next doctor’s appointment.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the first thing you should do is find a doctor that you feel comfortable talking to. You need to feel comfortable telling them about all of your symptoms, even ones that are embarrassing. Here is a list of suggestions that may help you be more prepared to take charge of your health:

  • Bring a health history list with you
  • Know your current insurance coverage for doctor visits
  • Bring a list of all current medications, including over the counter, vitamins, herbal remedies
  • Bring any test results you may have; x-rays, blood tests
  • Write down any questions you may have before you go, listing the most important first
  • Think about how you are going to describe your symptoms, and be honest
  • It may be helpful to ask a family member to come with you
  • Let the doctor know if you have hearing or vision problems, or if you need an interpreter so they can accommodate you

In addition, here is a list of questions you should write down and bring with you each time:

  • What routine screening tests do I need?
  • What are the results of my recent tests?
  • Have you heard from or received results from my other doctors?

Other things to bring:

  • Picture ID
  • Insurance cards
  • Any paperwork you needed to complete
  • If you are a diabetic, remember to bring your glucometer and blood sugar logs
  • Discharge papers, if you were in the hospital

Many people go to the doctor expecting to listen, however the best health care happens when there is a good patient-provider relationship. So be an active member of your own health care team and go to your next doctor’s appointment well prepared.

For more information on making sure you receive the best health care quality, read Getting the most out of your doctor’s visit and What to do after a doctor’s visit.

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