Dr. Ngare ; April 12 - Part 1

Dr. Ngare ; April 12 - Part 2

We all know how difficult it is to make an appointment with the doctor of our choice. It’s a process that could take weeks. And when you finally accomplish it, in the best case, you only get 10 to 15 minutes of face-to-face time. Most of your precious time is spent going through the health system. This is part of why we created Reliable Online Wellness Experience or The Rowe Network, because we want to provide quality day-of, one-on-one time to our patients. However, there are still times when it is important to physically go see a doctor.

So, what’s the best thing you can do to make the most out of those 10-15 minutes? Easy. Be prepared.

  1. First, you need to ask yourself, “What do I need to see the doctor about?”

    You ask yourself this, because you need to pick the right person, according to your specific need. (Sometimes going to the doctor is not necessarily the best option. For example, if you’re experiencing a severe chest pain, you need to skip this process and go straight to the ER.)

    In preparation to see the doctor, make sure his or her practice is appropriate to what you’re looking for.

  2. Know your insurance. Know who is covered in your network. Make sure. Do your research.

    It is very important that you become familiar with your insurance policy.

    For instance, many companies cover one physical exam a year. MediCaid also covers one visit per year. For women, there is also a covered once-a-year well woman exam, most of the time. Kids’ coverage is slightly different.

    Please keep in mind that you need to make notes so that you know the date of your last check-up.

    Most importantly, when it comes to health insurance, be informed!

  3. Next step, ensure the location works for you, and call to make your appointment.

    Consider if you need someone to take you to the doctor’s office so that you can make the proper arrangements. Some doctors have financial penalties for no-shows.

    And please show up in time, not on time. You need time to get situated, so be there with plenty of time to spare.

  4. After you make your appointment, gather all the information you can.
    • Ask yourself the following question: Is this the first time you’re seeing this doctor? If yes, consider the following:
      • Have your main/previous physician send your medical records to the new doctor. (This applies to healthy people too! Doctors need to know about your immunizations, allergies, etc.)
      • Bring a list of all of your medications or bring the actual bottles. Medication bottles typically list dosage, which the doctor will need to know, and be sure to share when (e.g. daily) you take these medications and what you’re taking them for specifically.

        Also, share what vitamins and supplements you’re taking—even remedies you’re considering/trying.

        Please also share if you should be taking something that you’re not.

      • Know the pharmacy that you would like your doctor to send medications to.
      • Be prepared to present or talk through your family history including relatives’ medical conditions, if you are adopted, etc.

    If you can type out this information, this is ideal and will save a lot of time for you, because your time with your doctor is very valuable. The less you spend on this during your visit, the better. After your visit, all of this will be entered as part of your records with your new doctor for future reference.

    • If this is a follow-up appointment with your existing doctor, please consider the following:
      • Ask yourself, “What is the goal of my visit?” Goals could be the following: Diagnosis, prevention, concerns, second, opinion, etc.
      • If you had lab work done after your first visit and you expect to discuss test results with your doctor, be sure that your doctor receives the results before the visit. This will allow your doctor to have the proper time to review and provide a more accurate diagnosis.
  5. During your appointment, be prepared to be honest.
    • Your doctor needs to know what you know to make the most accurate diagnosis and propose the best treatment plan for you.
    • If you’re with a companion, ensure that you’re with someone you can fully trust, because you may answer intimate questions in front of this companion.
      If your companion is a significant other, it is important for you two to be on the same page regarding reasons you are there.
    • Know your symptoms and be prepared to discuss timeframe and frequency. Be specific. When did they start? How often do they occur? What have you done to make it better? Is it still there? Is it gone? When did it stop? What made it worse?
    • For the exam, make sure to wear comfortable clothes that can easily be removed for examination if necessary. Your doctor wants you to feel comfortable, and this will make the doctor’s job easier for you.
    • At the end of your visit, ensure that all of your concerns were addressed and know what next steps are. This is your time to ask questions if you don’t understand something and to know what your action plan is.

As you can see, there are many things you can do before, during and after your doctor’s appointment. Just keep in mind that the more information you have, the better.

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate through this process without stress!

Mwiyeria Ngare, M.D.

Dr. Ngare is Board Certified in Family Medicine and a proud The Rowe Network f/k/a The Rowe Network doctor.

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