How to Get More out of an Appointment with Your Doctor

How to Get More out of an Appointment with Your Doctor

How to Get More out of an Appointment with Your Doctor

One minute you’re mindlessly flipping through a magazine in the waiting room and next thing you know, your busy doctor has come and gone, your appointment is over and you remember that thing you’d planned on asking. Doctor’s visits can fly by, so you should always come prepared. After all, the best way to get more out of your health care dollar is to get more out of an appointment with your doctor. 

It’s easy as long as you stick to these three tips:

  • Prepare before you go
  • Know what you want to talk about while you are there
  • Make sure you understand exactly how to follow up after

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality   says that people who ask questions and take an active role in their health are happier with their care. They also see more improvement in their health than patients who do not take ownership of their health. Do you take an active role in your health?

Before the Doctor’s Appointment

  • Do you have a health problem? Do you want to ask about a medical test? Would you like to explore a new treatment option? Write down all your questions or concerns so you don’t forget to ask.  
  • Make a list all of the medications you take, including dose and frequency. Don’t forget to write down over-the-counter drugs, as well as herbs, supplements, and vitamins. The doctor needs to know because any drug—even over the counter and herbal remedies--can interact with other prescription drugs in a harmful way.
  • Ask a family member or friend to come along with you. It can be helpful to have another person listen to the doctor’s explanation, ask questions, take notes, and share information.
  • Check to make sure your doctor is in network. Use our Provider Finder. It could save you lots of money in the future!
  • If you have an HMO, see your Primary Care Physician (PCP) first for any non-emergency care. If you need to see a specialist, your PCP can refer you.  Even with a referral, make sure the specialist is in-network by using Provider Finder or calling the number on your card.

During the Doctor’s Appointment

  • Be honest, even if it’s embarrassing! If it’s a problem with your medications or any other health issue, the doctor is the person to tell! Your doctor can help the most when he or she has all of the information.
  • If your doctor prescribes a new medication or changes the dose on one you’re already taking, make sure you understand why.
  • Take your health into your hands! If you don’t understand something, ask questions. You can also ask for brochures, videos and websites that are relevant to the issues you’re discussing. When it comes to your health, you should get your hands on all the information you can!
  • Before you leave the doctor’s office, make sure you know what your next steps are. If a follow-up visit is necessary, schedule it while you’re there.

After the Doctor’s Appointment
Follow your doctor’s instructions. Call:

  • If your symptoms get worse or you have side effects from your medications.
  • To get the results of tests or clarify test results you don’t understand.
  • If you see something on your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) that doesn’t seem right. Remember: your EOB is not a bill, it just shows what was covered by your plan. You will receive a bill directly from your doctor if you owe anything after insurance has paid. To see all your EOBs for the last 18 months, visit the Claims Center in Blue Access for Members (BAM).

When you’re ready to pay your bill, read about your options !

If you have any questions, we can help: call the number on the back of your Membership ID card.

Do you have any other suggestions to get the most out of your doctor's visit?  Share them with us in the comments!

Originally published January 27, 2015; Revised 2018