How to Prepare for a Doctor Appointment
In-Person or Virtual—how to get the most out of every minute!
Your doctor needs all of your medical information to provide you the best care.
A little prep before office or telehealth meetings with your doctors can help you get the most out of every minute. Regardless of the type of appointment, take a little time to gather the following items ahead of time.
1. A written agenda
Your goals for meeting (in priority order)
Your questions and concerns (in priority)
Notes on how you feel physically and emotionally
You can email this agenda to your doctor in advance or upload to their portal, if you wish. Call the office to let them know your agenda is there.
2. A list of all your medications
Current and recent prescriptions
Current and recent non-prescription medicines
Current and recent vitamins and supplements
- Details of tobacco, alcohol, or recreational drug use
Download our Medications Record form to make keeping track of your medications a cinch.
3. Your medical history
Chronic/ongoing medical conditions or symptoms
- Hospitalizations (why/date/outcome)
This information may be on your electronic portal. However, it is always a good idea to have it at your fingertips. Your doctor may not have had time to review it before meeting with you – and portals can have errors! (Check your portal regularly and make sure errors are corrected.)
4. Your Pain Map
Download our Pain Map form to help you “plot” your pain symptoms. Using this tool will help give your doctor(s) a clearer understanding of your pain, including:
- Severity and frequency
- What it feels like
- When it started
- What provides relief
4. Name and phone for your pharmacy
5. A calendar to record appointment(s)
6. Pen and paper to take notes
7. Invite someone to go with you
Studies show that patients forget a lot of what their doctors say (completely normal!) These conversations are packed with lots of good info. Someone at your side, or by FaceTime, can take notes or help you remember your agenda. Nothing missed!
Don’t be afraid to speak up for ‘plain speak’!
If your doctor uses medical terms you don’t understand, simply say so. Don’t stop asking questions until you feel confident that you understand what they are telling you. You don’t want to leave any meeting with your doctor feeling confused or bewildered about your health!
What about Telehealth meetings with your doctors?
The telehealth trend is here to stay! In our post-pandemic society, it offers a safe and convenient option that works for many people. But is telehealth right for you?
When telehealth might be your best option:
- Will it takes weeks or months to see your doctor?
- Worried about spreading your germs – or picking up others – in a doctor’s waiting room?
- Short on time or patience with traffic?
You may get an appointment sooner, and at your convenience. It’s your doctor’s call, of course, but it may be an option for you.
When telehealth is NOT the best option:
- Your doctor needs to perform a physical exam
- You’re most comfortable with in-person meetings
- You are uncomfortable with the technology involved
- Your home doesn’t have a strong or reliable wifi signal
- You’re concerned about internet security or other privacy issues
How to prepare for your telehealth visit:
Prepare for a virtual meeting with your doctor just like you would for an in-person office appointment, however, there are a few more preparations to make.
1. Gather your medications and devices
- All medications, vitamins, supplements, and non-prescription medicines (Use our handy Medications Record form to organize all of these.)
- Thermometer and any other home medical devices you use
2. Find a quiet place
Let others know not to disturb you. (Don’t plan to take the dog out!)
Adjust the lighting so the doctor can see your skin tone—a gauge of your health.
3. Test your technology!
Internet, computer, sound – leave no room for Murphy’s Law!
Test the login your doctor’s office provides right away.
4. Invite someone to join you!
- The beauty of telehealth virtual visits is that someone can join you in person or join your meeting via FaceTime.
- Give them a copy of your agenda so they can help take notes and make sure all questions are covered.