Have you ever been to the doctor and wondered, “What just happened?” Did the doctor seem to stare at the computer, seem distracted, or like they weren’t listening or even cared?
I became a surgeon because I wanted to help people. Unfortunately, medicine has become more of a business. Physicians are faced with time constraints, productivity goals, satisfaction surveys, multiple interruptions, and new computer systems which all distract from patient care.
I have a memory of telling a patient about their non-operable cancer. I had a sick patient in the ICU. I was interrupted multiple times during his visit and discussion with he and his family. We were all frustrated.
I received a poor review which from the patient’s perspective, I well deserved. He had a new diagnosis of cancer that I could not operate on. He deserved my full attention. However, another patient was ill and needed me too.
Physicians are trying to do their best despite the challenges of medicine, and the new regulations that exist.
I have had to implement many new behaviors in order to serve my patient’s better. Not only have I undergone training on the computer and patient satisfaction, I have implemented wellness for myself. I am more mindful of the patient experience and how medicine’s changes affect them. I have a yoga mat in my office, I have a life/business coach, and I have built a good team.
More importantly, what can you do to prepare for the most satisfactory doctor appointment?
- Bring a list of all medications, supplements and dosages. You can also bring all of your medicines and supplements in a bag.
- Know your medical history. Especially if you are visiting a new physician, bring a written list of your health issues, past procedures and tests. Although we now have the EMR, not all systems share information. ask if there is a health history form that you can fill out and send in ahead of time.
- If you have had x-rays or CT scan prior to your appointment, ask that they be sent to the doctor you have been referred to. I tell all of my patients to ask for their own disk of their X-rays in case they are not sent properly.
- Make a list of your concerns or questions in order of importance prior to your appointment.
- Bring a family member or friend that can listen and take notes. It is known that people retain only about 10% of the information that they hear at the doctor.
- Ask for literature or handouts on your health condition.
- If you will require an interpreter, ask for one ahead of time. Be sure to discuss your questions and concerns with the interpreter before the doctor comes in. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t understand something. Ask for literature in your language if it is available.
- Your doctor is unfortunately on a time limit. This is often imposed on them by the health system. Be understanding and efficient with your questions. Understand that you may have been booked for a short time slot, and you may have to return if your issue is different than expected. This can be prevented if the office clearly understands why you are coming in.
- Be on time! Many health systems will not see patients if they are late. Know where the office is located, allow for parking time and arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow for any last minute paperwork. This allows the most time for you and your physician.
- Know the office policies regarding cancellations and no show appointments.
- Plan out what you would like to discuss with your doctor prior to your appointment. Prepare your questions ahead of time, so you ensure not to forget anything