How To Be (Better) Prepared For Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

As a professional care manager, I have the opportunity to attend medical specialists appointments with my clients.  Many POA’s for Personal Care are also attending these appointments. As part of our preparation, their medical history is reviewed and summarized including highlighting the relevant reports, X-rays test results as well as including details of current medications; when possible, a pharmacy print out, is helpful.

Any questions the client and their family may have are listed. In addition I will have a conversation with the current caregiver and review their log book notes. (Note: reputable agencies will have their caregivers document daily events/concerns).

By preparing both a summary chart and having a list of questions ready for the doctor, this preplanning can save both time and aggravation. Each time, I have found the specialist/physician to be appreciative of having an accurate summary that has been concisely presented in a comprehensive manner. The other benefit of course, is that each new doctor always asks the same questions as part of their history taking. This can be annoying and difficult for many of our clients who may be tired (after having a long wait) and may not be accurate historians. By providing an overall snapshot of their health history in an organized manner allows doctors to have more time to listen to their patient and talk with them about improving their health and focus on the presenting problem to identify treatment plans.

Most of us don’t keep copies of test results and reports. It can be difficult to keep track of our complicated health histories, especially as we age and have co morbid conditions. The January 2011 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, titled “ Seniors and the Health Care System: What is the Impact of Multiple Chronic Conditions” indicates that “nearly one-quarter (24%) of all Canadian seniors reported having 3 or more of the 11 chronic conditions.

Without electronic health records being uniformly available, the onus is on each of us as patients to know our histories and keep our own records. How many times have we all gone to see a new doctor who does not seem to be very knowledgeable or familiar with our medical history or reasons for the referral? Unfortunately, this may be the norm rather than the exception.

If you need help, ask a family member or a professional to sit down with you to start documenting this important information. Because of this need and wanting to help families be better prepared, we created a Wellness Binder to help you to start documenting this important information.
This Wellness Binder can also be used as a discussion guide with family and friends, especially the person who will speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself, such as your Power of Attorney or Substitute Decision Maker. The Binder will help you to be prepared and organized for whatever health issue is around the corner. You will be glad you did, and your family, friends and trusted advisors will appreciate it.

Having ready access to your own health information which can be easily summarized or provided at your next medical appointment is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself and a loved one.

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