Short and Simple Doctor's Appointments are Best!!

I have responded to several hundred “Patient Point of View” questions over the past six years.  And it never fails that there will always be people who write long questions with even longer stories.  The last thing I want to do is take out my highlighter and try and figure out what the questioner is actually asking.

Which got me thinking, that these same long winded people, are doing the same thing at the doctor's office.  Most doctors are too busy to hear all the fluff, and would like a clear and concise description of what the symptoms are or what the patient complaint is. Just like your investment advisor says you should be able to explain to a forth grader why you are buying a particular stock….you should also be able to explain to a forth grader what your ailment is.

By being articulate and to the point, I believe that patients will also receive a better overall healthcare experience.  It is possible that your doctor will be that much more effective with your treatment, if he/she understands what the issue is and can focus more directly on your healthcare problem.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first appointment or your 25th appointment….it is still important to present your thoughts and questions to your doctor in a simple way.

So I have come up with a list to help your doctor’s visit to be most successful.

1.    Write a list of talking points on a piece of paper.  Not an essay, or a diary, but just a list of maybe 3 or 4 things that you don’t want to forget to say.  Each talking point is like a memory jog in which you can expand on while your talking to the doctor.

2.    Typically at most doctor’s visits you speak to several healthcare professionals.  There’s the receptionist, then the person that walks you down the hall and weighs you, then the nurse that takes you to your room, and then finally the doctor comes in.  Think before you put a lot of effort into telling the receptionist all your talking points, only to realize that you were only supposed to tell her you are signed in for your appointment.

3.    The nurse usually likes to write down a general explanation for your visit and get important information, such as prescriptions you’re on, blood pressure, etc.  This way it gives the doctor a quick heads-up before walking in the door.  Usually if I have something that I think can get misunderstood in a nurses handwriting, I will give just a two or three word description….and then give the doctor a more thorough explanation.

4.    Remember to LISTEN!!  You are paying this doctor for his or her experience and expertise. Don’t spend the whole time talking about what other doctors have said.

5.    Usually there is “homework” to do after your appointment. There are prescriptions to pick up, exercises to do, regimens to follow.  If you can’t remember the instructions most doctors are happy to write it down.  Most of the “healing” happens after you leave your appointment….so the better you are at following instructions, the better your chances are for a successful outcome.

6.    And lastly, remember to stay focused….and keep it short and simple!

Good luck at your next appointment!!