According to Practice Fusion, patients over the age of 65 will have seen an average of 28.4 doctors over their lifetime. We place an incredible amount of trust in these men and women, even if the time we spend in their presence is often quite brief.
Even the most compassionate, educated and intuitive of doctors don’t always cover everything you need to know during an appointment. In order to be an informed patient and make the best decisions about your medical care, it’s up to you, as the patient, to assert your needs and expectations. This is especially true as you advance in age and your health needs become greater, which is why it’s important to ask the right medical questions and health questions when you have face time with your physician.
Come Prepared With Medical Questions For Your Doctor
Even if you make a mental note of what to ask your doctor prior to an appointment, it can be easy to forget to ask once you’re face-to-face. To ensure that your doctor will be able to answer all of the medical questions you might have, write them down as they come to you and bring them to your appointment.
If you’re wondering exactly what to ask your doctor during an appointment, here are some ideas to consider:
Why is this test or procedure necessary? Your doctor’s office uses a wide range of tests to provide diagnoses and prognoses. Whether the testing method includes blood sampling, biopsy or imaging, you have a right to know and understand its exact purpose. Ask your doctor what conditions are being tested for. Find out how long you should expect to wait for results and inquire about the follow-up steps that might be required. Perhaps most importantly, ensure that the test is absolutely necessary and whether or not it’s covered by your insurance plan. While your physician must order the test, you have the right to make the final call.
May I have a copy of my medical records? The medical community recognizes that you have a right to know everything entered into your personal health record. It can be extremely helpful to have copies of your records, especially if you regularly see different health specialists. Be sure to ask your doctor for a copy of your personal health records. Having your lab results, x-rays and health history gathered in a single place can take the stress out of conveying critical health information to a new provider for you or your loved ones. By being in possession of these records, you take the guesswork out of emergency care.
Is there a way I can contact you with additional questions? You’re bound to have questions even after you leave your doctor’s office and it’s never too late to ask. Before you leave, find out the best way to contact your doctor with questions that may arise as you follow your treatment plan. According to a recent survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change, 24% of U.S. doctors routinely provide a direct line of email contact to their patients. If you don’t use email, find out if there is a phone number that you can use to reach your doctor on short notice. The patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of excellent healthcare. As a patient, you can make the most of this relationship by asking the right questions.
Health Questions To Ask When You Get A New Diagnosis
In addition to having general medical questions for your doctors at appointments, you might also have health questions to ask them as well. Asking your physician-specific health questions is especially important if you have been recently diagnosed with a new condition or disease. An unexpected diagnosis can be shocking at first, but it’s important to stay informed in order to ensure that you are receiving the best quality of care and treatment as possible.
Here are some suggestions for what to ask your doctor after a new diagnosis:
What should I know about my treatment plan? Don’t leave your doctor’s office without first learning everything you can about the experiences ahead of you. If you’ve gone to the doctor for treatment of a specific condition, ask how long you should expect to wait before symptoms begin to subside or, alternatively, how long you should wait before seeking follow-up treatment for persistent symptoms. If you’ve been prescribed medication, ask about possible side effects. If you are concerned about the side effects described, inquire about alternate courses of treatment. The best way to determine if you’re on the path to recovery is to know exactly what to expect along the way.
What follow-up steps should I take? Your treatment does not end when you leave a doctor’s office. To the contrary, you might have a new set of medical directives to remember, from filling new prescriptions and scheduling follow-up appointments to adopting dietary restrictions and making broad lifestyle changes. Look for your doctor to provide you with a detailed self-care plan including referral information and prescription instructions before departing.
How do I find a good specialist? In most cases, when you receive a new diagnosis, your doctor is going to tell you to make additional appointments with doctors who specialize in your condition or disease. In some cases, they could even recommend that you see more than one specialist. Figuring out how to find specialized doctors that you can trust can be stressful. But if you ask your doctors to provide you with some referrals, they should be happy to oblige. They can even look up specific specialists who take your insurance plan, which will cut the amount of time you’d have to spend doing research in half.
A Hands-On Approach To Your Health
At Medical Guardian, we interact with older folks and their loved ones every day and for the most part, everyone has the same concern: “How can I live my best life at home?”
A big part of staying healthy and remaining in your own home as you age is regular visits to the doctor. Additionally, remaining active and engaged in your health and your health care plan is essential to living your best life at home. Should you feel, however, that you need an extra safety net at home to provide you with more peace of mind, a Medical Guardian medical alert device will keep you connected to help should an emergency or non-emergency occur.