- Quality of Life & Wellness
Your Visit to the Doctor
Getting the Most From Your Doctor's Office Visit
If you are like most of us today, you are budget and time conscious. So are doctors and their offices.
A good office manager tries to make sure that all of the appointment slots are filled for their doctor, and also tries to make sure that they have left a little space so that a patient can be squeezed in if there is an urgent need. Why do you think that doctors' offices are always closed from noon until 2 in the afternoon for lunch? It is so the doctor and their staff can maintain a schedule while fitting in unexpected events and get back on to timeliness if an appointment went long.
Doing Your Part BEFORE You Arrive
As a patient, you are responsible for your body. It is up to you to know to the best of your ability how things work.
The best advice I was ever given by a doctor was to make a list of everything that would like to get tests or information for before you come in for a complete physical.
In the weeks before you see your doctor for an annual check, you should know some things about yourself. Get ready to make some lists because you want to present accurate information in order to get back accurate information.
Here are a few of the things that you should know before you go to the doctor:
How many times do you eliminate in a day? In other words; How many bowel movements, and roughly, how many times do you urinate in a 24 hour time period?
How many pills a day do you take, when do you take them, and what do you take them with? What are these medications for.
Do you take any other forms of medicine? This can be valuable for your doctor to know, because some medicines interact with certain foods. Even list vitamin and minerals, as well as over the counter medicines.
Is there any other medicine or topical remedy that you are using for anything? Rashes, acne, arnica gel for bruises, anything at all. List it.
Has anything in your life or health changed since the last time you were in to see the doctor? I am always amazed when I go with relatives who do not mention things because they do not want to be embarrassed. It is far more embarrassing to have medical problems and not get them checked out.
Note any places where your skin is uneven, discolored or strange looking. Make a map of your moles and freckles unless you are covered in them. These could be signs of a number of medical conditions. If cuts and bruises take a long time to heal, note it.
Have there been any changes in your vision, taste, hearing, smell or touch?
Have you learned anything about your family medical history? Make sure that you share it. Ask your parents and grandparents about their medical history.
Ask about tests that can be done to prevent any illness or diagnose any illness, especially if there is a family history.
Generic Medicine and Other Ways to Save Money
If you are on any insurance plan, and a prescription is written, always ask if there is a generic alternative that would work as well. Some prescriptions can even be written for double the dose amount, and then split in two, thereby decreasing the cost of the drug. Be careful if you do this, tell your doctor what you are doing, because some medicines are formulated so that they dissolve in your stomach or bowel, so cutting them in half could cause them to not work as they are supposed to. Always follow the directions of your doctor, not the suggestions of your friends when it comes to splitting pills in two.
If you do not have medical insurance, it may be worth your time to search online for a free medical prescription discount card. These free cards can save you up to 75 percent of medicine costs. They are also good with pet medicines in some cases.
Check the Costs of Medicine BEFORE You Leave the Doctor
Put the telephone number of your pharmacy in your telephone. When you are at the doctors' office, call them and ask how much to have each prescription filled. If it is more than you can afford, tell your doctor while you are still in their office. This can save a lot of headaches by getting a lesser priced medicine now.
An elderly friend got a prescription for a medicine that after her insurance was still going to cost her over 1500.00 per month. An alternative was available for less than 150.00 per month. That is a substantial savings. It is your money, not the doctor's. Spend it like that and you will realize savings.
Ask the Office for Reminders and Test Results
If you have lab work done, ask the office to call you with the results either way to let you know. Many doctors' offices will now only call if you need to come in and be seen.
I also ask my doctors' office to call me one week before my appointment to remind me. Although I have it on calendars and in my smartphone, that reminder is the one that will cause me to compile notes for my visit.
By being a prepared patient, you will get more for your money and time than the patient who does not have a clear idea of what they are seeing their physician for.
I once had a doctor's office receptionist who told me that they would not call if there was a negative result, and they would not remind me because "that was the patient responsibility". I explained that like any other service I was paying for, I could and would shop around. I also mentioned it to the office manager and the doctor. I got what I wanted, but I was willing to change doctors if I needed to. Remember that your doctor is paid by you to provide services to you. You only owe him the amount of the bill, not to have poor care.