In this week’s Newsweek Magazine, there is an article that says according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, patients only get an average of 11 seconds to talk at a doctor visit before they are interrupted. In addition the study said that only 36% of doctors even ask their patients questions that invite them to set the agenda for the visit. Specialists are even worse than primary care physicians – but to be fair, a specialist likely has more information about your condition and is more prepared for your visit.
In any case, this study highlights how important it is to be an informed participant in your health care. Make the most of your time with your doctor by bringing notes or lists of questions to address. Here’s a list to help you get started for your next doctor visit:
- Make a list of your medications. It’s important that you know what you are taking, the dosage information and the condition you take each drug for. This includes prescription as well as non-prescription medications/vitamins/supplements.
- Know your health history. Your doctor may need to know about old conditions, procedures, surgeries, etc. Make a list of them along with the timing of when each event happened.
- Remember to get right to the point when you’re talking with your doctor. If you’re reluctant or embarrassed to talk about your symptoms, your doctor may not get the full picture of why you are there.
- If you don’t understand something, keep asking for clarification. Even if your doctor struggles with the explanations, it’s important for you to understand what is happening and why. Don’t be embarrassed to take notes or to bring someone with you to make sure you understand the full picture.
Your health is all yours – and your healthcare is too important to miscommunicate about. Next time you go to the doctor, either for a check up or something more serious, make sure you’re getting the most out of it.