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making the most of your doctor appointment

Before your visit

You can make the most of your time with your doctor by being prepared. Let your doctor know your symptoms and concerns upfront in case more than one appointment is needed. By doing so, the most important issues may addressed first.

Here are some actions to take before your appointment.

Write down the topics you want to discuss with your doctor

  • Consider any differences in your health since you last visited. Watch for changes in eating, sleeping, sudden aches or pains, skin changes or growths, and note your overall sense of well being
  • Write down any questions or concerns you may have about your health or medications
  • Don't forget to take this list along to your appointment

Get to know your family medical history

  • Your doctor will want to know about major illnesses in your family tree
  • A family history of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or other conditions will help your doctor know how to best care for you

Remember to bring these items to your appointment

  • Your up-to-date insurance information and form of identification
  • Method of payment to cover your co-pay or deductible
  • A list of all medications you are currently taking, including how many times per day and the dose strength. Include both prescription and over the counter (such as aspirin, vitamins, and herbal supplements). You may find it easier to bring in your medication bottles or packages for the doctor to check
  • Your list of questions and concerns for the doctor

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During your visit

Your doctor is there to listen to you and help you and your family. Your well-being depends on being comfortable in sharing your thoughts, concerns, and needs. Feel free to ask questions or repeat any information you didn't fully understand. Open communication is the key to a successful visit with your doctor.

Take an active role in your care

Your physical exam

  • Regular exams offer many benefits, from improving your quality of life to detecting early signs of disease
  • Your doctor will base your particular exam on your age, gender, and health status
  • In a routine exam, your doctor may check your skin for changes, listen to your heart and lungs, and take your blood pressure
  • Your doctor may request a blood analysis to check for sugar, cholesterol, liver and kidney function, anemia and any other disorders. A urine sample and a stool sample may also be tested
  • Talk with your doctor. A physical exam combined with an open discussion will help your doctor determine the best care for you

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After your visit

Be sure you understand and follow directions given to you by your doctor. This is an important part of your responsibility as a patient. Before you leave the doctor's office, ask any questions you may have about your medications, tests, referrals, and when to call the doctor.

Follow through on your next steps.

  • Schedule your follow-up appointment if required, and any future appointments
  • Be sure you have received any referrals if directed by your doctor
  • Be sure you have any prescription slips. Understand when and how to take the medications
  • Know how and when you will receive your test results

Take an active role in your health through the Advocate health library.

  • Understand what you can do at home to improve your health
  • Discover how to enhance your health or treatment plan through nutrition and fitness
  • Read more about any medical conditions you may have  

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