Visiting a new doctor can be intimidating. We may be focused on whether or not we like the doctor, but we should also make sure that person can provide us with information and/or medications to help us lead healthy lifestyles. Doctors want their patients to be proactive and to take control of their own health, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Here is a list of some of the top questions you should be discussing with your new doctor:
1. What can I do to prevent this from happening again? Let’s face it. Our ultimate goal in seeing a doctor is to get over whatever current medical condition we have going on. But what would be better is to make sure you don’t suffer the same problem again. Discuss the preventive measures you can take to avoid another bout of sickness or worse – a lifelong battle.
2. How will I know if the treatment you’ve provided is working? Know what signs to look for as your health improves. Ask your doctor specifically about the amount of time it may take before you start noticing a difference in your medical condition.
3. Do you think my medical condition is temporary or permanent? You want the truth from your doctor and to understand what you are dealing with (temporary or permanent). As scary as it may be to realize you are dealing with a permanent medical condition, it is better to know sooner rather than later to help maintain a healthier you.
4. How many patients like me have you treated? Asking your doctor about their previous experience with your condition is an excellent way to ensure that you’re getting the best treatment that you can. This also gives you the opportunity to consider a second opinion if you’re not confident that your doctor has the experience you want or need.
5. What is this medication for and why do I need it? Often our doctors expect us to blindly trust their judgment when prescribing medications. When you take the opportunity to ask why you’re being given a medication, it becomes an opportunity for both of you to have an open conversation about treatment. Also, don’t forget to ask questions about whether you should take it at a certain time each day, if you should take it with food, if it can be taken with other medications and so on.
6. Are there generic forms or over-the-counter medications that can be used? Generic or over-the-counter medications will likely cost less for you, so always check with your doctor to see if they are available for the prescription he is prescribing. There are instances where the generic or over-the-counter versions may not “do the trick” for your medical condition, but go ahead and ask anyway.
7. When should I come back to see you again? Doctor’s visits shouldn’t be regulated to only the times you’re sick. Both men and women should take preventive steps to stay on top of their health beginning in their mid to late 30’s. Schedule annual checkups to make sure you are living the healthiest life possible.
8. Anything you would like me to work on before my next visit? Don’t waste time between visits with your doctor. Asking your doctor about what areas of your health you need to work on sets up a conversation about your overall health for your next visit.
9. What is the best way for me to lose or maintain my weight? Many people diet to lose weight, but you should talk to your doctor about long-term and sustainable changes that can help you keep weight off and live longer.
10. Are there any internet resources that you trust enough to encourage your patients to use when trying to self-diagnose? The internet has endless opportunities for us to look up symptoms, side effects and all sorts of medical information. The most important factor is to make sure you are using a trustworthy source of information that provides accurate and reliable information. If there is a website that your doctor trusts, he’ll be glad you asked and glad to share.
All in all, be prepared for your visit! Your doctor will appreciate your desire to take action and make your life as healthy as possible.
Helpful reminder – Remember that to save on out-of-pocket costs, find a contracting provider. If you’re a BCBSKS member, search for in-network providers through the National Doctor and Hospital Finder.