If you are living with one or more chronic conditions, it can seem like your calendar is full of doctor’s appointments. Try these tips to make the most of each visit by good preparation, being thorough during your visit and how to have a good follow-up plan.

Your Complete Checklist to Prepare for Doctor’s Visits

Prepare for Your Appointment

  • Write down everything you want to tell or ask the physician.
  • Arrive early to your physician as you may need to complete forms.
  • Bring a list of your symptoms (when they started, how long they last, how they feel, and where they are).
  • Bring a list of any changes in your routine (for example: diet, exercise or activity, sleeping patterns).
  • Bring a brown bag of all your medications you now take. Include prescription and over‐the‐counter medications (vitamins, herbal, mineral supplements).
  • Bring your insurance cards and your updated information sheets.
  • Bring your Patient Health Record that includes a list of other physicians taking care of you and recent physician visits with any changes in medications by that physician and tests or procedures performed.
  • Bring your daily monitoring log if you use one (blood pressure/heart rate log, diet log, activity log, blood sugar log).

During Your Visit

  • Don’t let yourself be rushed. Go over your questions and concerns.
  • Communicate your symptoms and changes in routine. Make sure you describe how you feel and how long the changes have occurred.
  • Don’t withhold information. Physicians cannot help you if you do not tell them!
  • Communicate any symptoms related to your medications (i.e. dizziness, lightheadedness, dry mouth, headache, palpitations, stomach upset and bowel changes).
  • Answer the physician’s questions honestly. Physicians depend on your input to help them diagnose your condition and prescribe treatment for you.
  • Get clarification. Ask about anything that is unclear.
  • Write down the physician’s answers and directions. If you have difficulty writing or anticipate being too worried to “hear and understand things,” consider taking a family member or friend along.
  • If the physician orders tests, learn their purpose and if there are any risks. Ask how you should prepare for the tests.
  • If the physician prescribes medication, be sure you understand its benefits and risks, as well as how to take and store it.
  • If your physician has prescribed treatments for your condition ask questions such as: Is there more than one treatment? What are the pros and cons of each treatment? With which treatments have you had the most success?
  • Ask for patient education materials. To learn more about any condition, ask for easy‐to‐follow educational pamphlets or video tapes.
  • Ask when you should schedule a follow‐up visit. Make an appointment prior to leaving the physician office.

Follow‐up after Your Physician Visit

  • Call for additional information. If your still have questions, do not hesitate to phone your physician to discuss them.
  • Take time to learn your new medications or change in medication dose safely. If you have questions, do not hesitate to phone your physician to ask.
  • Report any symptoms that occur after any new changes in treatment or medications.
  • Update your Patient Health Record. Keep your Patient Health Record current to reflect your physicians’ visits, medical conditions, tests or procedures performed, and treatment.
  • Update your medication schedule with any new medications or changes in medication dosage or time to administer.
  • Always follow up. It is your responsibility to follow up with your physician to find out test or procedure results. Don’t wait for your physician to call you.

If leaving home to go to doctor’s appointments is becoming more difficult, call 1.866.KINDRED (1.866.546.3733) to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Care at home may be an option for you.

By Blair Klayko