5 simple questions to help you get the most out of your doctor visit
Let’s be real: many of us just don’t feel comfortable at a doctor’s office. Most of the time, we go to the doctor’s because we think something is wrong with us and we want a diagnosis. Studies even show that the length of a primary care visit is decreasing steadily across the country.
Sure, you probably have errands you have to run after your appointment, but speeding through your medical care can seriously impact your long-term wellness. By rushing out of a doctor's visit, we miss the opportunity to gain a deeper and more complete understanding of our overall health. This is one of the few times when you should want to be the center of attention!
Get proactive about your health by asking questions of your health care provider. Unsure of what you should ask? Don’t sweat, we put together a quick list of the top questions your provider wants you to ask during your appointment to help you maximize your health care.
You can get a jump on future health concerns you may have with this simple, open-ended question at the end of your check-up. This question gets your primary care provider talking to you about preventive care practices – healthy habits that are meant to keep you disease-free and well in the future.
In addition to providing examples of lifestyle changes, your doctor can detail the types of tests and vaccines you might need soon. Vaccination and medical test needs vary depending on your age, health history and gender. Ask your doctor about any blood tests or vaccinations you may need to better understand your health in the future.
For more information about standard vaccination standards, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines here.
High blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease are the leading causes of death in the United States. These conditions can be challenging to detect in yourself, as symptoms are often slow-developing and not readily apparent.
Talk to your doctor about your family history and current heart health to schedule any tests you may need and get started on a treatment plan. Being proactive about your heart health can help prevent serious medical conditions like those listed above while increasing your overall well-being through healthy lifestyle changes.
Okay, so these are two questions, but they should be asked in the same conversation. If you have received a diagnosis for a specific medical condition that needs addressing, asking about the range of options available helps you start the conversation of what plan is best for you.
If you are working with a health care professional for the first time, they might not know about adverse reactions you’ve had to medication or prior experiences you’ve had with treatment. Asking about treatment options helps you get the full scope of what medication and follow-up care may be needed to address your concern and avoid any adverse effects of treatment.
If you are currently taking other forms of medication or supplements, now is the time to discuss it. Medications can sometimes interact in harmful ways, so be sure to mention any other treatment you are currently undergoing before starting a course with any new drugs.
Treatment is a shared decision between you and your health care provider. Asking about your options allows you to take some control of your health care and work with your doctor about the best plan of action for you.
Waiting on test results after lab work can be stressful. Patients often sit at home after their lab without knowing when they will from their doctor with the results. You can alleviate this nervousness by asking about when you might hear about your test results.
You can learn more about your medical test by asking your doctor why the test is needed, what it is testing for and how results are interpreted. All of this information can reduce the stress of waiting to hear the outcome.
Asking questions can also help you best prepare for the test; for example, you may need to have an empty stomach for a certain test or you may be asked to provide a urine sample for another. Get a more complete understanding of the test you’re undergoing to avoid any unnecessary stress.
Asking your primary care physician about getting a second opinion is not an insult. Depending on the condition you are seeking treatment for, your provider might recommend that you see a specialist for a second opinion for a more accurate diagnosis. For example, if a primary care physician is unable to definitively diagnose the cause of throat pain, they may send you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT) to determine if you are experiencing nodules. Similarly, if you are seeing a doctor for high blood pressure or diabetes, they may refer you to a dietician to provide a more comprehensive plan for weight management and lifestyle changes.
Not every condition or diagnosis requires a second opinion, but don’t be afraid to ask if you should consult a specialist. The worst thing that can happen is that your doctor informs you that it is not needed.
The world of medicine can be tricky to navigate. At Sesame, we want you to feel empowered to make the most of your care. Use these questions during your next check-up to get proactive about your health and well-being. Simple inquiries like these help build communication between you and your doctor while giving you the most complete understanding of what’s going on in your body.