Doctors run on busy schedules, and they tend to plan each visit around the questions patients ask within the first few minutes of the consultation. Therefore, it is up to you as the patient to set the tone of your visit with the right questions from the get-go. Continuing to ask questions throughout the visit can further improve your care and give your doctor a better idea of your at-home routine to manage your health. Below, you can see some of the most essential questions you should bring up during any doctor visit to ensure that you are getting the most value for your visit.
Are there other conditions that could be behind my symptoms?
Because doctors see a large volume of patients each day, it may be easy to diagnose a condition quickly without considering alternatives. Asking about the possibility of other conditions can open up a more detailed conversation about your symptoms and the illnesses that may be to blame. If you have multiple health concerns to discuss in a single visit, be sure to mention all of them at the start of the visit so that your doctor can plan accordingly. Waiting until the doctor is almost out the door to ask about a recurring headache or chronic cough may leave you without the care you need right away.
What treatment alternatives are available?
Some conditions may have a number of possible approaches to treatment, so you might ask your doctor about alternative routes if you are hesitant to undergo a procedure or start a new medication. In some cases, it may be helpful to have a family member or spouse with you during a doctor’s visit so that you do not forget to ask about treatment options and have someone to help you remember what the doctor says. You may also be surprised at how welcoming doctors are of second opinions, which means that you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for a referral to a specialist if you want more time to think about your treatment options.
How can I follow up after my treatment?
Many patients do not follow up with the doctor after taking medication or following new guidelines for managing a specific condition, and this can be problematic if a treatment has presented side effects or not worked effectively. Ask your doctor about the best way to stay connected so that you can stay in communication about your care. You may not even need to schedule a second visit if your doctor is able to provide care over the phone or via email.
Knowing the right way to talk to your doctor can go a long way in your care. During Patient Safety Awareness Week this March, you might begin to consider better ways of communicating in the doctor’s office to stay on the right track with your health. And remember, if you are ever in need of a second opinion, the board-certified medical team at MeMD is always available to assist with your healthcare needs!