How to Make the Most of Every Doctor Visit
Mon - Fri, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sat, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Whether you see your doctor once a year for an annual checkup or more often to manage a chronic condition, it's important to make the most of every visit. By partnering with your doctor and being proactive about your health, you can feel more informed, more confident about your health care decisions, and more satisfied with the care you receive.
Here, you'll find helpful tips for things you can do before, during, and after your appointments to maximize the value of every visit.
Before your visit:
- Complete a copy of the Healthwise Self-Care Checklist and take it with you.
- If you are seeing this doctor for the first time, ask what you are expected to bring.
- Bring the names, addresses, and phone numbers of ALL doctors who are treating you.
- Know your medical history. Bring records of any tests, treatments, or vaccines you have had in the past five years.
- Know your family's health history. What problems or conditions run in your family?
- Bring a list of all medicines you are currently taking, including vitamins and herbal supplements.
- If you have seen a doctor before for a similar problem, bring those records.
- Bring your health insurance information.
During your visit:
- Tell the doctor your main concern first.
- Describe your symptoms (use the Healthwise Self-Care Checklist).
- Describe your past experiences with the same problem.
- Write down what's wrong. If you are diagnosed with a new problem, write down an explanation so you know what it is, how to spell it, and what it means for you.
- Write down what might happen next.
- Write down what you can do at home, and how family or friends can help.
At the end of your visit, ask:
- Do I need to return for another appointment?
- Can I phone in for my test results?
- What danger signs should I look for?
- When do I need to report back about my condition?
- What else do I need to know?
For medicines, tests, and treatments, you may want to ask:
- What's the name of the medicine (or test, or treatment)?
- Why do I need it?
- What are the risks?
- Are there alternatives?
- What happens if I do nothing?
- (For medicines) How do I take this?
- (For tests) How do I prepare?
Following each appointment, be sure to update the medical records that you keep at home.
By taking an active role and truly participating in each appointment, you'll be doing your part to protect your most important asset—your health.
Sources: Medicine.net, MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance