Thursday, October 3, 2013

Smart Patients

The smartest patients come to the doctor’s appointment prepared. Now that more patients are paying a greater portion of their medical bills, it’s important to make the best use of your time and money.

The first step is to stay on top of your medical information. If your cholesterol was checked last month at a health fair, unless there is a problem it’s unlikely that it will need to be checked again soon. You can cut down the number of imaging studies in your future if you tell your new doctor that you have an extra blood vessel in your liver. Immunizations are important, but it’s silly to get shots that you don’t need because you forgot that you already had it.

 Unless you are having crushing chest pain or actively bleeding, there is probably time to get a second opinion. Get a second point of view before making a major medical decision. I don't recommend consulting with Dr. Google or his colleague, Dr. Wickipedia.

Keep track of your medications – all of them, from every doctor. Don’t forget over the counter products, herbs, supplements and vitamins. Be honest about your alcohol intake. Don’t fib about recreational drug use.
There can never be enough time to answer all questions. Decide before the visit what is most important to you and tell the doctor at the start of the visit. The doctor may have another agenda but will be better able to manage the visit. And – if you run out of time, schedule your next visit before leaving the office. You will have the full attention of the scheduler and won’t have to wend your way through a telephone tree.

 A smart patient will be a healthier patient.