Make the most of your doctor visit

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine encouraged doctors to make patient satisfaction an important part of the healing process. Here’s how you can do your part during your next appointment:
Do your homework

Jot down your questions ahead of time and prioritize your list. Ask your doctor if you can follow up with e-mail if you don’t get to all of your questions.
Get your files ready

It might take some work, but gathering and sending your medical and hospital records to your new physician will help the transition and will allow both of you to focus on the most important issues. If possible, send the originals of CT scans and mammograms.
Use the buddy system

Patients who took a friend, spouse, or other family member to a doctor visit were especially satisfied with their doctor, according to our survey of 25,000 patients on their experiences and satisfaction with doctor visits. Your friend or relative can take notes so that you can focus on what the doctor is saying, and the two of you can confer after the visit to make sense of the doctor’s advice. Talk beforehand about what your guest’s role is going to be, and be clear on what information you want shared with others.
Don’t be shy

There’s evidence that patients who ask questions, politely interrupt when necessary, and clearly explain how their symptoms affect their everyday lives have better health outcomes than timid patients.
Focus on the details

If your doctor writes you a new prescription, ask when and how you should take it and for how long. And ask about side effects and adverse reactions.
Question medical jargon

If you don’t understand a medical expression, ask for an explanation in plain language. On the other hand, if you know a lot about your disease, let the doctor know that you understand the medical terms.
Give the whole picture

Your medical records will give your doctor the clinical information he or she needs about you—but you need to fill in the blanks. Tell your doctor if, for example, you’re experiencing financial problems, fulfilling caregiving responsibilities, or traveling extensively for work.

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