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Family Health | Personalized Healthcare
Doctor in office with patient

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Simple tips to make your visit more effective

You thought you were prepared. You had several questions ready to ask your doctor during your well-check visit — but when the time came, you couldn’t think of a single one.

If this happens to you, you are not alone. Don’t fret, though. There are several things you can do to make your visit more effective and get the most out of one-on-one time with your doctor. If you use the tips below, you’ll be prepared and at ease — and your doctor will appreciate that you’ve done your homework.

  • Be punctual

    1. Be punctual

    Arrive 15–20 minutes early for your appointment. Doing so will give you plenty of time to check in and have your vitals (height, weight, blood pressure) taken before your appointment time. It also will help you get as much time with your doctor as possible.

  • Write your questions down

    2. Write your questions down

    Before your appointment, write down any questions or concerns you want to talk about. These are too easy to forget if you try to rely on memory alone. Writing them down also helps you prioritize your questions so you’ll know what to ask first. Also, bring a list of all of your current medications, including herbs and dietary supplements — those count as medications.

  • share family health history

    3. Share your family health history

    Be sure your family health history is up-to-date. Share any changes or new conditions of your family members with your doctor. Your family history is a very important tool for predicting your risk for disease.  

  • relax

    4. Relax

    It’s natural to be nervous or anxious when visiting a doctor, but remember that we are here to help you. Try to relax as much as possible. Some patients even suffer from white-coat hypertension, which means their blood pressure rises higher than normal when they are in the doctor’s office. When you arrive, take a few deep breaths and remember that your doctor is on your get-well and stay-well team.

  • be honest

    5. Be honest

    Let’s be honest — many medical conditions are uncomfortable to discuss. But you should not be embarrassed to talk about anything with your doctor. Actually, leaving out details or lying to your doctor can be bad for your health because it affects your care, so tell your doctor everything. Honesty is definitely the best policy — especially for your health.

Tags: chat with a doctor, family health, family history, personalized healthcare, relaxation
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Kathryn Teng, MD, is Director of the Center for Personalized Healthcare and leads Cleveland Clinic’s efforts to integrate personalized healthcare into standard practice.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/USSOUTHERNER Jerry Dixon

    Take your notes with you, ask & question other staff not just your Dr. while there. Always get copies of Test results & do some research. Do not forget to have a good relationship with the Doctors Nurse & Staff.

  • Not-So-Sweets

    I have a rare disease and see many specialist. From 24 months of dealing with it, my medical file is >600 pages. How do I condense or organize my information to maximize my time with new doctors (like at Johns Hopkins)?

    • Kathryn Teng, MD

      Most clinicians will want to see original records, which they can request and review either before or during your visit.

      However, I have found that the most helpful summary from patients or other providers tends to be chronological – starting with farthest time point and moving to current time, and including a bulleted summary of symptoms and evaluation at each time point with key results and treatment plan recommended.