When you schedule a visit with a specialist, it's typically because you have a specific health concern. Specialists are a valuable part of your medical team, so make sure they are fully informed about you and your health. Think of your appointment as an opportunity for collaboration. When you and your doctor work together, you'll get better care. This is especially important if you're seeing a particular specialist for the first time.
7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Appointment:
- Ensure the specialist has access to your prior information. Ask your primary care doctor to share any relevant medical records, scans, and reports with the specialist's office. If you have had recent telemedicine appointments or urgent care visits, let your specialist know about those, too. Key tip: Even doctors from the same health system won’t always have access to each other’s records, so be sure to arrange for them to receive it. An experienced health advisor can often expedite this process.
- Make a list of key things you want to tell the specialist. In the days leading up to your visit, write down everything you want to be sure to mention. That way, it won't slip your mind during the appointment. Include any symptoms you're experiencing, when you first noticed them, and how they have changed over time.
- Consider any factors that could interfere with your treatment. Do you have a lot of stairs at home? Is your job physically taxing? Are you allergic to any medications? If you have concerns that the doctor may not know about, bring those up during your visit, too.
- Ask someone to join you for the appointment. It's often helpful to have a family member, friend, or health advisor in the room with you. They can offer another perspective and may have additional insights. For example, a family member might mention, "He snores a lot." A friend might have a question about your condition that you didn’t think to ask. Key tip: If no one can attend with you, consider recording the appointment.
- Be on time. Plan to be a few minutes early in case you experience any transportation-related delays or have trouble finding the office. If it’s a telemedicine appointment, confirm the logistics of how you’ll be connecting with the doctor.
- Treat your specialist like a valued teammate. If you have to wait a while before the doctor sees you, check your attitude. Being cooperative and understanding can go a long way as you communicate with the specialist and their office staff.
- Close the loop. Discuss with the specialist how their recommendations will be communicated back to your primary care provider and other members of your medical team. Key tip: BHA often recommends that providers call each other to pass along key information about your health.