When we’re really sick, sometimes 15 minutes in the doctor’s office just doesn’t feel like enough time to truly explore the root of a problem. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that doctors did not allow their patients to finish a statement of concerns at 23% of appointments. More recently, it was found that patients only get to speak for an average of 12 seconds before the physician offers medical advice. It’s safe to say we’ve all felt rushed at the doctor’s.
Here are some tips on how to make the best use of your time during a doctor’s visit, for you or for someone else:
Bring a list of questions.
Come prepared to your doctor’s office so you don’t get off track. Prioritizing your questions in case you run out of time is helpful as well. A health advocate can help you do this.
Bring along an advocate.
Ask a health advocate to accompany you to your appointment. They can take additional notes and help ask questions to clarify anything that may be otherwise difficult for you to understand.
Communicate outside of the appointment.
Ask your doctor if there is an e-mail address you can communicate with to ask any questions which may come up after the appointment is over.
Don’t be afraid to schedule a second appointment.
Asking a health advocate to help you prioritize which issues need to be addressed during your initial appointment is very helpful. If there are less urgent health concerns, they can always be addressed with a second appointment on another day.
Become familiar with the patient portal.
Many doctor’s offices have patient portals, which give patients 24-hour access to important and personal health information. Information includes x-ray results, recent doctor appointments, and more.