As patients, we need to maximize our time with the doctor as it is essential for our health. Doctor’s appointments can cause stress and anxiety for patients. In stressful situations, comprehension of information decreases. Add that to not feeling well or being nervous, it can seriously compromise our capacity to retain information.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our health literacy is defined as our capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services. In turn we are able to make appropriate health decisions.
Doctors are given on average 15 minutes to spend with each patient. Doctors are becoming busier and their time with patients is decreasing.
We have all gone through the experience – the doctor asks “do you have any questions?” We shake our heads “no”, only to remember a list of questions when we get home. Should I have brought up my stomach pains? Is my test next week covered by insurance? Am I allowed to take this new medicine with my old ones? Patients and caregivers need to be prepared before the doctor’s visit to avoid follow up phone calls, mixing of medications or unclear information.
- Be On Time. Waiting in the doctor’s office can last from a few minutes to an hour depending on the doctor’s schedule or emergencies. If you are running late, you can ultimately push back the doctor’s schedule for the day or run the chance of not being seen in a timely manner.
- Bring a Family Member or Friend. It is important to be attentive to what the doctor is saying. An extra pair of eyes and ears can help with taking notes and reassuring that you have heard everything correctly.
- Know Your History. Record all of your medical history. Make sure you have updated health records, document any conditions you had in the past, keep a running list of medications, blood pressure readings, hospitalizations, injuries, allergic reactions, new diagnoses, test/lab results or even a death in the family.
- Keep Tabs on Yourself. You are your own best advocate. It is vital to be as accurate as possible when discussing current symptoms. Information is invaluable to your doctor, who evaluates your symptoms only in that five-to-seven minute window. Have a list of irregular symptoms that are occurring, including changes in sleep, eating habits, etc.
- List Important Numbers. Not only is it important to provide your doctor’s office with your health information, but also your emergency contacts, insurance company, pharmacy, and home health provider. If healthcare information needs to be passed along, it is vital for those involved to be able to contact each other.
- Ask for Directions. With only 15 minutes, your visit will be short and there much information exchanged. Request a printed or electronic copy of the doctor's instructions and list of any new prescriptions with directions. This will help you learn about your health and document for future reference.
- What’s Next? Do you need to schedule a follow-up appointment, test, or pay for today’s exam? Ask for a reminder card or phone call to verify the next appointment’s day and time.
The care teams at Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio help patients keep track of their health and record daily changes, using telemonitoring technology. VNA of Ohio partners with physicians to ensure they are informed of their patient’s health, progress and any additional needs.
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Learn more about VNA of Ohio home healthcare services, or call us at 1-877-698-6264.