I Wish I Knew. . . How to Prepare for My Doctor’s Appointment

“I really wish I knew __________ about my healthcare.”

                                                                                                – Everyone


At 2×2 Health: Private Health Concierge, every day we meet with people, we hear something like, “I wish I would have known you when I was going through my surgery last year,” or “I wish I would have known what to expect when my mother was going through her cancer treatments a few months ago.” Sometimes it is wishing that we knew about the resources available to help us when we feel the most vulnerable, while other times it may be wishing we has asked more questions at the beginning. Whatever your questions are, we want to help you navigate your healthcare journey successfully. We’ll share some of the most common themes of “I wish I knew…” over the next couple of months, beginning with, “I wish I knew how to prepare for my doctor appointment.” Sometimes it can be intimidating to ask questions, we can feel like we should know all the answers, but remember our doctors and nurses went to school for a long time to be able to answer these questions! When we ask questions in a respectful, genuine manner, we are showing our interest, our investment in our loved ones and ourselves. When we partner in an educated way with our medical team, we are better equipped to understand our current status and our next steps. Here are a several strategies to help you prepare for your next doctor’s appointment:

  • Have someone go with you, it is important to have an extra set of eyes and ears to help with asking questions, taking notes, as well as hearing and understanding the information that is being discussed.
  • Have a list of all your current medications
  • Make a list of some questions in advance of the doctor appointment, examples of a few questions could be:
    • What is my diagnosis or are we still determining that?
    • Are there any diagnostic tests that you will be ordering today?
    • Can you tell me a more about why we are doing this test and what our next steps will be based on the results?
    • When will I know the results? How will I know what the results mean?   And who do I connect with if I have questions after getting the results?
    • What are my next steps and in what order? If I have questions or have trouble making a follow up appointment, what do you recommend I do?
  • Ask for clarification when medical terminology that you are not familiar with was being used
    • I am unfamiliar with some of the terms being used and I really want to understand this, can you please explain it to me in layman’s terms?
      • Do not be afraid to ask for spelling!
    • When I describe this to my family, I want to be sure I use words that they can understand, can you please tell me more about this in a way that I be able effectively to communicate it back to them?
  • Discuss what to expect after your surgery or treatment
  • If there is recovery time associated with surgery or treatment, what does this typically look like? What is considered a typical healing time and at what point, should additional medical treatment be considered?
  • Based on day-to-day routine and activities, are there activities that should be adjusted?
  • If a new medication is being prescribed, be sure to know how much and how often to take it, if there are any special instructions, potential side effects and what to do when the current prescription runs out
  • Ask for a clear understanding of what is typical and what is unusual with the condition or disease
  • Keep notes or a journal of what each healthcare professional discussed and recommended
    • This is something that your family member or friend could help with
  • Ask if there were organizations available to help with some of the challenges associated with your healthcare issues, and if the physician doesn’t know, maybe some of the other team members will

When we ask more thoughtful questions, we become better informed. What do you wish you knew about your healthcare? At 2×2 Health, whether we are in the same room with you or across the country, we want to be a resource to assist you and your loved ones. Our goal is to help people be engaged and feel confident in their healthcare care experiences and one way to achieve that is to ask questions.

What are some things you wish you knew or would like to know about healthcare and your healthcare journey?

Wendy Benson, MBA, OTR/L


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