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Examiner
  • Lori Boyajian-O'Neill: Get the most out of your physician visit

  • The patient-physician relationship has changed over the years. Patients are more empowered than in past generations and have ready access to health information (good and bad) on the Internet. Physicians are under increased pressure to see more patients utilizing shorter appointment times. To optimize this visit we patients must be prepared and focused.

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  • The patient-physician relationship has changed over the years. Patients are more empowered than in past generations and have ready access to health information (good and bad) on the Internet. Physicians are under increased pressure to see more patients utilizing shorter appointment times. To optimize this visit we patients must be prepared and focused.
    Optimizing the patient-physician meeting, what do you know? T or F?
    1.  The most commonly diagnosed condition is hypertension.
    2.  Office visits to primary care physicians average about 15 minutes.
    3.  Less than 30 percent of visits are to primary care physicians.
    Patients who plan for meeting with their physicians will find their visit much more productive and purposeful. Being prepared can mean the difference between leaving the office feeling that our concerns were addressed and leaving feeling confused. Being prepared is to be actively engaged in our own health, not passive bystanders.    
    Understanding the specific purpose of the appointment is a first step in focusing the conversation and getting the answers we seek. It may sound odd but many patients are not quite sure they know why they are seeing the physician. Be able to answer the question, “I am here because ...” Moving quickly from pleasantries to the purpose of the meeting provides more time for in-depth discussion.  
    Knowing your personal health history is another aspect of preparation. Do you know the dates and locations of your surgeries? List of medications? Write down pertinent information before the meeting. For example, if you are seeing a physician for knee pain, write down the medicines you take for it. List your knee surgeries including date (month, year and location). Trying to recall from memory your medical and surgical history during the meeting (and arguing with your spouse about it) eats away at precious patient-physician time.  
    Writing down questions or concerns before the meeting will help focus the conversation and set the foundation for good communication. Take a note pad to jot down items during the meeting. Consider taking a friend or family member who may serve as a note taker. Taking notes can help you keep track of your diagnostic or treatment plan. A checklist may be helpful. Do not hesitate to ask questions. If you don’t understand something that your doctor is explaining, ask for clarification.
    When you leave the meeting make sure you understand the plan. Is there a change in any of your current medicines? Will you be picking up a new prescription? Are you being referred for physical therapy or X-rays? When making an appointment, ask how long your meeting is scheduled. Most patients do not know.   
    Physicians can offer advice, intervene with procedures at our request and map out a course of treatment. But, ultimately, we patients are in charge of our own health. Being prepared and actively engaged during our meetings with physicians provides for a relationship based on mutual respect and collaboration. Our health ultimately begins and ends with us.    
    Page 2 of 2 - Answers: 1.T;  2.T ; 3. F - 55.5  percent of all visits are to primary care physicians
    Dr. Lori Boyajian-O’Neill can be contacted at lori.boyajian-oneill@hcahealthcare.com.
     
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