Making the Most of Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

Being prepared for your next doctor’s visit can make wise use of their valuable gifts.

“I rely on my patients to share what is going on so I can provide the care they need,” said Kate Rasche, MD, family medicine physician with Mission Community Primary Care – Haywood, a service of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Follow these tips to make every doctor’s visit count:

Take Tests in Advance. When making annual physicals or diabetes follow-ups, confirm whether labs are needed before your appointment.

Make a List. Be prepared with questions or symptoms to briefly share at the start of your appointment. Your doctor will help prioritize the most pressing issues. “We may schedule a follow-up appointment to address all of my patient’s concerns, but on this visit, prioritizing helps us address the most important issues first,” said Dr. Rasche.

Keep a Log. If you have a specific condition like diabetes, asthma or blood pressure, record your numbers or episodes. For visual conditions like rashes, take photos—the condition may be different on the day of your appointment. Detailed accounts paint a more accurate picture.

Brown Bag It. Bring all of your medication bottles, not just a list of medicines. The specifics can be important.

Bring a Friend. Having another person to take notes or listen can provide a reference for later. A health notebook is another way to record your condition, next steps and findings from each appointment.

“Remember, this service is for you,” said Dr. Rasche. Ask questions during your appointment if you don’t understand something. Questions that come to mind later can be phoned in for your doctor’s response.

Using the Internet

The internet is a good resource for information but cannot replace the diagnosis of a healthcare provider. Dr. Rasche recommends Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), as well as Mission Health’s Health Information Library, which offers thousands of easy-to-understand explanations and tools on medical conditions, symptoms, tests and treatments, at mission-health.org/patientconnect.

Kate Rasche, MD, is family medicine physician with Mission Community Primary Care – Haywood, a service of Transylvania Regional Hospital. (828) 459-9006

By Cheri Hinshelwood