Preparing for a health care visit helps you get the most out of time spent with a doctor or another health care practitioner. It may also help you communicate with a practitioner more effectively. Here are eleven ways you can make the most of your health care visit.
- Pre-register. We want to make it as simple as possible to get information to you, especially any test results. When you pre-register, our team gets all of the latest information from you, including contact information so we can communicate with you. You should pre-register every 60-90 days. Click here for helpful registration phone numbers.
- Bring your medicines. Medication errors are very dangerous. Help us help you avoid them! The best way for us to confirm your medication list and what you are taking is to review the bottles in which your medications come. Bring them with you. Also, be sure to check which medications will need refills before your next appointment.
- Arrive early. It’s ideal to arrive 5-10 minutes early to ensure adequate check-in and rooming time.
- Write down questions. Even important topics can slip our minds. Time with your health care provider is precious. Be sure to bring all of your questions. Take time to list them out before you come in. Here is a list of questions to get you started.
- Negotiate an agenda. Sometimes there are too many topics to review in one visit — and you may have different priorities than your health care provider. Talk about it. Also, plan to visit regularly, if needed, to address ongoing care. Always know when your next visit will be and should be.
- Get written instructions. Ask for instructions that will make the most sense for you. Ask clarifying questions. State back what you think your health care provider is suggesting. Ensure that you know what to do after your visit.
- Complete an advance directives (or, living will). An advance directive is a form that you fill out to describe the kinds of medical care you want to have if something happens to you and you can’t speak for yourself. We advise that everyone over the age of 18 fill one out. Help your family, loved ones, and health care providers know your preferences. Click here for advice on how to get started.
- Sign up for MyHealth Online. Our online patient portal offers you 24/7 secure access to your medical record. This is a great way to quickly see test results, renew prescriptions, request appointments, send messages to your doctor’s office, and keep track of your medical information along with your provider. Click here to sign up for MyHealth Online.
- Meet and get to know your care team. Besides your doctor, you will likely have a nurse, a medical assistant, and an advanced practice provider (such as a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant) on your care team. You may even use a health or exercise coach, a dietician, or a certified diabetes educator. They are all part of your medical home and part of the team that helps to take care of you. Get to know them — and allow them to get to know you — so you can get the most out of working with them.
- Aim for continuity of care and connect with your providers. Talk to your provider about who else to see if he or she is not available. It is useful to know at least two providers in the patient-centered medical home office. A trusting relationship with a core team of health care providers who know you well will help keep you in better health!
- Get involved in your care. You play a vital role in your own health! Setting self-management goals and becoming an active partner in your own care makes you your own personal expert. The better you know yourself, the better you can share accurate and complete information with your care team.
Alicia Jacobs, MD, Melissa Barrup, NP, Joanne Hunt, NP, Meagan Bigelow, Clinical Care Associate, Kim Cronin, RN — all members of your friendly Care Team at Family Medicine Colchester at the University of Vermont Medical Center.