THE “ABCs” OF APPOINTMENTS…
Did you know that most people over 50 spend, on average, 17 days a year on some sort of medical or health care appointment??? A 2016 Dartmouth Institute study reports that this is an “average” number of days spent in a health care setting. We all know about those “annual” visits for lab work and general testing but, how can we keep track of those other visits? And, how can we maximize every appointment to really make it count?
Well, I thought I’d share a few of the tips I’ve learned in getting my own mother organized in recent years.
A = ASK
*Don’t be shy….ask for help in setting appointments. Every insurance company has a Patient Advocate. If you don’t have a relative or friend close, call the phone number on the back of your insurance for help.
*Try to get those forms early. That way, you can save time when you get to the office. You are prepared and can relax and focus on questions you may have to ask the doctor or health care provider.
*Ask for the first morning appointment…things won’t be backed up yet. You can get in and out!
B = BRING
*Always have your insurance card with you…at EVERY.SINGLE.APPOINTMENT. A photo ID is also a great idea.
*Ask a family member or friend to join you. Better two heads than one when getting information.
C = COMMUNICATE
*Try to be open and CLEAR. Come prepared with a list of: Names and phone numbers of all providers and specialists that you see.
*All of your medications and dosages. Don’t leave those vitamins and over-the-counter drugs out…..Be sure to keep those medications organized…it can be very dangerous to get things mixed up….we use this organizer.
*Jot down a few questions. Keep paper handy at home to write down those thoughts or concerns before your appointment.
*Your primary care doctor will most likely ask you about family history. Be as candid as possible. Keep this info in one spot…we used a little spiral bound book.
*Make sure your doctor is communicating clearly with you. Are you feeling uncomfortable with something he/she has said? Speak up NOW. This is YOUR time, and the goal is to leave feeling confident in what you have learned. Try to get the office manager’s direct line….this is handy if you need something quickly or, if there is confusion about front office directives.
I’ve used this list with my mother over and over in the past few years…..use what works for you. And, if you don’t feel comfortable with your physician….it may be time to change.
Stay Warm and Healthy,