Before Your Appointment:

  • First, be sure that where you make your appointment accepts your insurance. You can call or go online to your insurance website to see a directory of in-network providers. Then, when you call to make your appointment, verify with the front office staff that that office takes your insurance.
  • When making the appointment, either by phone or online, provide a few details about your concern so that a proper length of time can be scheduled.
  • If it is your first visit to a particular clinic or physician, be ready to provide information about diseases that run in your family and describe current and past health problems and treatments. Write it all down if that helps and bring past medical records, test results, and your immunization records.
  • Make a list of the medications you are taking (or bring in the bottles) including the doses and frequency of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as herbs, supplements and vitamins.
  • Find a friend or relative to accompany you to your visit. A lot of information may be presented at a doctor’s visit, it may helpful to bring a friend or relative to help you write things down, share medical information, and talk with the health care team.

During Your Appointment:

  • Share your symptoms, relevant health history, and the list of medications that you take.
  • Don’t forget about your emotional health; it influences your physical health.
  • Your health is worth the physician’s time. Repeat what the doctor has told you to be sure you understand and ask for clarification if needed.
  • Try to reach an agreement about the recommended treatment plan.

Before Leaving Your Appointment:

  • Find out if and when you should return for another visit and clarify any next steps. Schedule a follow-up appointment if necessary.
  • Ask if you need to watch for certain warning signs for your condition, ask when you should be concerned and at what point you need to call in.
  • Ask how to reach the doctor if you have questions or concerns – by email? By phone? What hours are best? How soon can you expect a response?
  • Don’t leave if you’re uncertain about your diagnosis or treatment plan.

(Source: Adapted from the Allina Hospitals and Clinics Website)

Be Prepared

Preparing ahead of time can help you and your doctor make the most out of what are often brief appointments. We’ve reviewed various materials on preparing for an office visit and suggest the following:

Resources reviewed June 2013