A trip to the doctor’s office is often an uncomfortable experience, usually because we are either unwell, in pain, or just inconvenienced. Furthermore, navigating the medical system can be intimidating and confusing. So it stands to reason that one would want to avoid follow-up appointments or multiple trips to the doctor in a calendar year.
Roslynn Aquino, a veteran registered nurse at North Shore LIJ, offers some advice on how to make your visit with the doctor and experience with the medical system more efficient and enjoyable.
Get some advice over the phone
Aquino emphasizes the importance of the support staff when a patient wants to avoid making multiple appointments. “Most doctors have clinicians that can help,” she says. “They answer calls and can triage symptoms over the phone.”
Prepare questions in advance
Asking the right questions can also go a long way when trying to get the most out of a trip to the doctor’s office. “Write down any questions you have for the doctor ahead of time,” Aquino says. “Sometimes you can get nervous and forget your questions.”
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Bring important forms
“We’ll ask patients to bring all of their medical records with them,” she says. That might include gathering reports and images in advance, but don't worry. “We can help with that, as long as we have prior authorization to access the patient’s medical records.”
Know what to ask
Even if your appointment is just an annual checkup, it’s important that you’re up-to-date with any conditions you should be watching out for. “Depending on age and risk factors, you should ask questions like, ‘Do we need to do any blood screening tests?’ This is important if you are at risk for diabetes or high cholesterol,” Aquino says.
Ask about your discharge plan
The appointment’s over, but your work might not be. “It’s important to get discharge instructions when you leave the hospital so that you know what symptoms to look for once you get home,” Aquino says. That includes making sure you have follow-up phone numbers in case you have any questions after you leave.