When you visit your primary care provider, it’s important that you prepare in advance to make sure you’re able to address questions you may have or any changes to your health.

  • Make a list and prioritize your concerns. Write down any symptoms you’ve been experiencing and changes to your health (even small ones). If your list is longer than 3-4 items, ask for an extended appointment with your doctor.
  • Bring important information. An up-to-date list of all medications you’re currently taking is helpful, or you can just put them in a bag and bring that. Additionally, if you’ve seen doctors outside of the healthcare system where your doctor practices, bring copies of their notes.
  • Consider bringing a family member, friend, or advocate to the visit with you. Two sets of ears are better than one and the other person can take notes while you are talking.

During the visit

Don’t be afraid or intimidated to ask questions and for clarification if you don’t understand what’s being said. Sometimes doctors need to be reminded to speak in plain language instead of “Doctor Speak.” You may also want to take notes or have someone with you do so. Before the visit ends, go over the things the doctor has recommended to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

General questions:

  1. Do you have any serious concerns about my health?
  2. What is the best way to remedy or mediate the problem?
  3. What will happen if I don’t do anything?
  4. If I follow your recommendations, how will it affect me?
  5. Do I need any approval by my insurance provider?

Some suggestions as to when to get a second opinion:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with a rare condition
  • You need more information
  • The recommended treatment carries serious risks

Remember that you are not offending your doctor or intimating that you don’t trust them by asking for a second opinion. Being an educated consumer isn’t just for purchases. You should spend more time shopping for health care than buying a car!

Our passionate patient advocates can attend doctor’s visits and communicate with your healthcare team to ensure that your goals and priorities are reflected in your plan of care. If you have any questions or would like to request a free assessment for yourself or on behalf of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you.