Zachary Merten, M.D.
Birthing Centers, Family Medicine
A visit with your health care provider can be overwhelming. There are a few things to consider before, during and after your visit so you make the most of the time you have with your health care provider.
Prepare a discussion checklist.
Your health care provider will ask you several questions. The amount of questions depends on the reason for your visit and whether this provider has seen you before. Your answers help your provider understand your health and your health concerns.
Be prepared to discuss:
- The main reason for your visit
- New concerns
- Past and present medical conditions
- Any past surgeries
- Prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins and herbal remedies
- All allergies
- Immunization records
- Family medical history
Write down your main concerns.
Prepare a list of main concerns. Rank them in order of importance. You may want to ask:
- How can I improve my health?
- Are there conditions or diseases I am at risk for?
- What are possible side effects of medications I am taking?
- Are there any available resources that will help me understand my medical conditions?
It also is important to tell your health care provider about anything in your personal life, such as an illness in the family, financial worries or job difficulties, that may affect your health.
Describe new symptoms or recent changes in symptoms.
Your health care provider may ask you detailed questions, such as:
- How long have you had the problem?
- What does it feel like?
- How often do the symptoms occur?
- What brings on the symptoms?
- What reduces the symptoms?
- Is the problem getting worse?
- Have other family members had similar problems?
Having a family member or friend with you can be helpful. Having two people hear the discussion can help later when you want to remember what was talked about. In addition, you can read the provider’s notes from your visit through the patient portal.
Expect to ask all of your questions and have them answered. Talk with your health care provider about resources that may help answer your questions. This may take more time than this visit allows. If you need more time for questions, you may need to schedule a follow-up visit or a phone call.
Recap what you heard after the visit.
It may be helpful to write down what you learned from your visit. Include information about how your health care provider is planning to help you and what actions you can take to improve your health. Request an after-visit summary that includes visit diagnoses, treatment plans, medication list and patient education, if one was not provided to you.
Contact your health care provider by phone or the patient portal if you have additional questions about your visit. Read more about how you can use the patient portal for your health care.