Preparing for Provider Visits
We must become ambassadors for our own health in every way that we can, because nobody else has the time.
What does this mean?
Getting the most out of your provider visits is a vital part of being an ambassador for your health. By taking a proactive and engaged approach to provider appointments, you can maximize the value and benefit you receive from one-on-one time with any health care provider, enabling you to feel more confident in making informed treatment and lifestyle decisions and plan for next steps. You can maximize the benefit from provider appointments by 1) making efficient use of office visits, and 2) preparing ahead of time.
Here are tips for achieving these goals:
Get your records together
1) A full medical history, including a family medical history – you can create your own here https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/FHH/html/index.html
2) Reports: Hospital records, Lab results, diagnostic reports, health screening reports, etc…
NOTE: Some of these records may take a significant amount of time to track down, request, and obtain. Start the process early, track the documents you have requested, where you obtained them, when they are taken, and when you received them. Once you’ve obtained your records, provide a copy to your doctor, and keep the original for yourself. Most doctor’s offices will be happy to make copies or download images on your behalf. Once you have your records, the My Journey, My Choices Your Healing Planner is a great place to organize and store them.
3) A list of all prescriptions, over the counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.
Download The Caring Ambassadors Program’s free My Medication and Supplements reference sheet.
Take the intake questionnaire seriously
If this is your first visit with a provider, thoughtfully and thoroughly complete the provider’s intake questionnaire. Fill out the questionnaire ahead of time, so that you aren’t rushed and at risk of omitting important information. You may have to request the questionnaire be mailed or emailed to you ahead of time when you schedule your appointment. You can also complete the comprehensive health intake questionnaire we’ve provided on this website and provide it to your physician or use it to fill in your provider’s office forms.
Keep a symptom diary
Keep a short diary of symptoms and physical problems – even those that may not seem to be related to the illness for which you are seeing your provider. A symptom tracker can help you and your providers establish any effectiveness of medications and therapies, potential triggers, and overall health trends. Here is a symptom diary you can download, made available by the American Academy of Family Physicians: Symptom Diary.
Bring a Health Ally
Make the most out of the opening discussion:
Patient 1: “I’ve been feeling awful for the past several weeks: exhausted, in pain, and putting on weight for no apparent reason.”
Patient 2: “My mom died last month. I’ve been in charge of handling her estate and all the funeral arrangements. I’m so busy and stressed that I can’t even grieve, sleep or cook a decent meal at home. I’m exhausted, in pain, gaining weight, and I’m worried about the effect all of this is having on my underlying medical condition.”