Have you ever returned home from a doctor’s visit realizing you forgot to ask an important question? Maybe you left feeling a little uncertain of whether they were listening to you, or you really needed a better understanding of your diagnosis or treatment plan but were too timid to ask. Some people may feel in a rush, intimidated, or even embarrassed about their symptoms. This can make it even more challenging to have clear, open, and honest communication.

Taking charge of your health and taking an active role means you make sure you are having good communication with your health care team. You need good communication on any team, and this includes you, your doctors, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers. Here are a few ideas to help you keep those communication lines open and be more prepared with your team for every appointment.

01 Make a List

Make a list of things you want to discuss with your care team and bring it with you for your appointment. Put them in order of what is most important to you. Remember to include any questions you might think of as well as a list of any symptoms you may be experiencing and when they began.

02 Ask Questions

Ask questions and take notes during your appointment or record your conversations. It may be helpful to bring a trusted friend or family member with you. They can help you listen, take notes, and make sure you get heard. They may also think of questions you hadn’t thought to ask.

03 Keep Good Records

Find out how to access your medical health information (ex. medical summaries, test results, and digital copies of scans or x-rays) and secure your copies in a binder. This is especially helpful when you meet a new care provider as they can make copies, potentially saving you time and cost by giving them a good history.

04 Remember Medications

Bring a list of any and all medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking and list any allergies you may have. If you are given a new prescription, make sure to discuss any possible side-effects and whether it will interfere with your current medications.

05 Exchange Contact Information

Ask your health care team if they have individual contact information available or the best way they can be reached.

06 Ask for Materials

Ask if they have any books, pamphlets or videos they would recommend for you to read about your condition, or if they have any written information that you can take with you and read later.

07 Leave Prepared

Before you go, talk about and understand the next steps you need to take.

Make the most of every appointment with your health care team. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your questions answered, your voice heard, and make sure you understand your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. If you have any additional questions, be sure to check in with your Health Advisor!

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