5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment
- by Mellissa S.
- December 24, 2018
Mellissa S. is a paid employee of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
In everyday life, we often think of questions to ask our doctors during the next appointment. This is especially relevant for those living with relapsing MS (RMS) when certain symptoms flare or new information becomes available. However, by the time you get to the doctor's office, it can be difficult to remember the questions you had.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. With a little prep work, you can help facilitate a meaningful doctor's visit that will leave you feeling empowered about your healthcare decisions.
Here are five tips to getting the most out of your next doctor’s appointment.
- Come prepared. Being prepared for your visit can make things easier for everyone. Be on time to your appointment, have all your insurance cards/ID with you, and have a current medication list in your wallet. The less time spent on paperwork, the more time you have with your provider.
- Write down your questions ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be typed or anything fancy. It can be informal—even written on a napkin will work. Keep a note pad with you to jot down a running list of questions. After the appointment, you can mark off the ones the doctor answered and note any remaining questions for your next visit. Your phone is a great tool for this too! Still stuck? Check out our Doctor Discussion Guide.
- Bring your journal. Don’t have one? A journal where you track your RMS and other health symptoms might be a good thing to consider. Tracking symptoms can help you and your doctor conduct a comprehensive review, since it’s often several months between visits. The new COPAXONE iTracker® 2.0 App is a great way to keep track of detailed notes, as well as your RMS therapy injections. Don’t limit yourself to MS symptoms; anything you notice that is new or different is worth jotting down. Use a small calendar, a personal planner or your phone. And don’t be shy; your doctor has heard it all before and welcomes the dialogue.
- Have a plan for the visit. Make sure that you set goals for the appointment. Ask yourself, “If nothing else, what do I need to leave here knowing?” It can be as simple as asking about a diet, or as complicated as getting details on medication side effects. If you go in with a definite direction and expected outcome for the visit, your doctor can streamline the visit while covering all the important points, resulting in a comprehensive appointment.
- Advocate for yourself. This means making informed decisions and asking for what you need. Ask questions, get educational materials, and make sure you understand the information provided by your doctor. This can seem tricky, since we see physicians for their knowledge and expertise. However, it is important to remember that no one knows you better than you! Take control, be in the driver’s seat, speak up, and make sure you get the best care possible.
Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can always ask a care partner to attend your appointment with you.
I hope these tips help give you some ideas on how to get more out of your next appointment. What sort of things do you do to make sure you get the most out of your appointments? Share a comment below or join us on the Lift MS® Facebook page.
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Shared Solutions® Nurse
About The Author
Mellissa S., RN: I work for Teva's Shared Solutions® and I have been a nurse for over 8 years.
COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.
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Tina | December 16, 2016I always take my man or someone in the room with me so I don't get in that nod & smile situation, and forget the reason I 'm even there!😢
Teva's Lift MS® Team | December 19, 2016Thanks so much for sharing your story, Tina.
Marion | January 09, 2017I try to bring somebody with me. Because I usually forget what I went there for and then I start to feel how dare I question the Dr. sometimes I feel foolish when I leave, thinking maybe I didn't really feel bad or maybe it's all in my head not really multiple sclerosis, come to think of it it is really in my head. I always have to stop, take a deep breath and Remember I have the right.
Teva's Lift MS® Team | January 10, 2017We understand living with MS adds extra challenges to life, Marion. We’re so glad you’re here and hope you find helpful support.
C | March 11, 2017Very helpfull.thank u for that..
Susie | May 10, 2017I wish I had the luxury of bringing someone with me to doctors' appointments,
I do try to follow the helpful advice to take notes before and after the appointment.
Teva's Lift MS® Team | May 11, 2017We understand life with MS can be challenging, Susie. We hope you continue to lean on this community whenever you need support.
Dianne | June 04, 2017Your five tips were really helpful, thank you.
Linda Hildebrand | October 08, 2017Good advice. Am Going to a new neurologist the end of month and will use this as a guide. Thank you
Teva's Lift MS® Team | October 09, 2017We’re glad you liked this, Linda. We hope you’ll check back often for new content!
Sonya | May 15, 2018Very helpful!!
Teva's Lift MS® Team | May 16, 2018Hurray! We love hearing that Lift MS has been helpful – that’s just what we intended! We appreciate your part in those efforts, Sonya.