New Patient Office Visit
To get the best out of your “new patient” visit, start preparing in advance. Being prepared for your doctor’s appointment will ensure a more productive visit and increase the potential for a more effective outcome. Familiarize yourself with how your insurance works and what is and is not covered. Be prepared to pay your expected patient out-of-pocket when you arrive for your appointment. Call ahead of time to confirm your appointment. If you have requested your medical records from another medical provider to be forwarded to your new doctor, call the new doctor’s office a few days before your appointment to insure their office has received your records. If a physician referral is required for this doctor’s visit, verify that the referral is completed prior to your appointment. Failure to have your referral in place could cause you to have to reschedule your appointment. Make certain that all your patient information forms are completed prior to your appointment time, provided you obtained them in advance. Bring a list of your medications. Be sure to bring your insurance cards and a photo ID.
Empower yourself with knowledge. Do research so you have a better understanding of medical terms the doctor might use. Deciding ahead of time what you want to get out of the visit will help you organize your thoughts beforehand. Bring a list of your questions and concerns ranked by priority. This will help you optimize the appointment time. You might consider bringing a relative or friend that you trust with you to your appointment. Two sets of eyes and ears are better than one. They may think of questions that do not occur to you and help you recall something you may have missed. They might even take notes for you so that you are clear about the doctor’s advice and instructions. If you attend your appointment alone, it is still a good idea to take notes. Ask for written information, links to helpful web sites and any other instructions.
Medical conversations can get complicated. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. You may be embarrassed about not comprehending what your doctor is telling you. You may be nervous about possibly getting news that you do not want to hear. Speak up! Your doctor will not know you don’t understand unless you tell him/her. Honesty is critical to a successful visit. Holding back information or not being truthful could jeopardize your health. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. Be assured that your conversations with your doctor are private and privileged.
Arrive a few minutes early for your appointment. Bring a sweater or light jacket with you in case the temperature in the doctor’s office is too cool for you. Wear comfortable clothing. If you are bringing a child, bring something to entertain them in the waiting room.
It is important that conversations about your health be a two way dialogue. Be sure that you are in agreement about your doctor’s recommended plan. More people are satisfied with their healthcare if they share the responsibility with their doctors. Your doctor is an expert in his/her area of medical care. You are the expert on yourself. A doctor’s appointment is not a one- time event; it is part of an ongoing relationship. Do your part to help your doctors do theirs.