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10 Ways To Get The Most Benefit Out Of Your "Quickie" Office Visit With Your Doctor

Curtis Graham

Visitors: 159

ATTN: Patients who believe they deserve better!

Surveys on medical office practice reveal that the average office visit with the doctor is 8 minutes. Every patient would like to know how to make that visit count and get better health care out of the deal. The old ways don’t work!

The business of medicine requires positive efforts by patients to take responsibility for how beneficial their own health care becomes. How do patients do that?-By learning techniques and strategies for using every second of those 8 minutes wisely.

After all this time—someone is finally going to tell you!

Take a look at the problems if you don’t do something:

  • Frustration with incomplete attention to your medical needs every time?

  • Forced into extra office visits to get all the medical issues resolved, when it could have all been handled on the first visit?

  • Required to fork over a new co-pay fee each time—costing you more “out of pocket” in the long run?

  • Knowing that if the doctor doesn’t have time to manage all of your medical problems on that visit—will that delay harm you?

  • Knowing that if you aren’t allowed time enough to tell the doctor about your serious medical problems—will it harm you?

  • Concern that with the short time allowed and speed of the visit—some important problem might be missed?

  • Understanding that the quality of your care is compromised to some degree because of inadequate time with the doctor?

    If you aren’t afraid of these factors-you should be!

    10 easy ways to improve your health care and avoid being shortchanged:

    1. Arrive early for appointments: The patient ahead of you may have cancelled and now you have much more time available with the doctor. Offices using “wave” scheduling (everyone given the same appointment time) is on a first there, the first served basis.

    2. Make appointments for mid-morning or mid-afternoon: Doctors are always in a hurry at the beginning of appointment schedules to catch up, and at the end of the schedule to get to noon or evening meetings.

    3. Make appointments mid-week: Mondays and Fridays are always crowded with fit-in and urgent appointments that weren’t scheduled—and guess who has to wait for those to be seen? And also guess who gets a shorter time than usual with the doctor? Avoid appointments just before holidays.

    4. Make a list: List every issue or symptom you need to tell the doctor. Have that list in your hand in the exam room. List the brand name of every medication you take, the doses, and the schedules—and have that in your hand also.

    5. Dressing: Always be sure to do your dressing and undressing when the doctor is not in the room. Having to disrobe further to examine a “just remembered” symptom when the doctor is there uses up time needlessly.

    6. No children: Make every effort to find a babysitter or chaperone to watch the kids. Any child in the exam room is distracting to the patient and the doctor. Distractions mean less time getting your medical problems attended to.

    7. Timing for questions: The best time to get medical problems discussed, and to have the doctor advise you is after the exam is done, late in the visit. If you get into those at the beginning, the doctor will likely have to revise and repeat his comments after the exam.

    8. Chummy talk: You can’t have both—a friendly chat with the doctor about your vacation, and have enough time in those 8 minutes to manage your medical problems.

    9. Medication info: This is usually the first issue in the exam room. Hopefully the nurse will scan and repair your list before you see the doctor. Having your medication list in your hand speeds up the process with the nurse, and avoids having the doctor spend time scanning your medical record for that information.

    10. Bonuses: Yes, they do exist! There are 3 that stand out and are of great benefit—but you have to make it happen.

    a. Handouts: Ask for any and all written information about your concerns—saves surfing the Internet for answers.

    b. Extracurricular Advice: Office staff will often answer questions and give advice quietly and privately to you. ASK!

    c. Samples: Free medication samples are often available in the drug closet. Ask for samples, as no one will volunteer to give any to you. They simply don’t remember what’s in the closet.

    Summary: Each one of these strategies will save you precious time, and allow you much more time to interact with the doctor. The white blur that whipped past you in the exam room probably was the doctor. Your eyes are not failing. Use the advice above to bring the doctor into focus—or at least into a slow-motion pattern.

    The author, Curt Graham, is a retired medical doctor who has written extensively on many topics over his 35 plus years in active medical practice as a specialist in OB-GYN. He has been published in MODERN PHYSICIAN, an elite publication for physician executives, and is credited as a “Platinum Expert Author” by Internet Directory.

    Learn hundreds of easy to use techniques and strategies that will slam your healthcare into high gear and save time and money at the same time. Yes, here's where you start.

    Please feel free to copy, send, or distribute this article as long as the article is not changed, and the author bio resource box is included with the article as written.

    Copyright 2005, L & C Internet Enterprises, Inc. , Curt Graham, All Rights Reserved.

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