PLANning Health - Patient Advocacy Services
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Making the Most of Your Visit to the Doctor

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Making the Most of Your Visit to the Doctor

To make the most of your doctor's visits, there are several items that are essential to have written down for everyone even health advocates! Even armed with the information below, often communication breakdown still occurs with your doctor. This is where our patient advocacy services come in. Dr Hanley and other Health Navigators can help facilitate communication, coordinate your health issues, and help you optimize your health care.

Necessary Information
1. List of symptoms or problems and when they started, e.g. headache started 2 weeks ago, progressively worsened; feels worse on forehead.
2. What medications you have used to treat the above AND a list of your normal daily medications.
3. Diagnosis or diagnoses given to you e.g. sinusitis, TMJ, etc.

Other important information to have:
4. Other doctors you've seen for the above problem or dates of emergency/urgent care visits and what happened during those visits.
5. Copies of results of lab tests, xrays, MRI, CAT scans, etc.

Helpful Hints
1. Today, many doctor's visits are less than 5 minutes, so the more prepared you are with concise information, the more time the doctor will have to ask questions, examine you, and come up with a proper diagnosis.
2. Bringing someone along with you who is over 18 (at least, or, if younger, very mature for their age!) also tends to make doctors spend more time with you. This is what I dub, "the witness effect". With a "witness" (friend or family member who functions as a your "patient advocate"), doctors are more likely to be more thorough, provide more information and answer your questions.
3. If you have a regular health care provider (nurse practitioner, doctor, PA, etc), then more and more are communicating by email. It would be helpful to email them a short, concise note of your updated symptoms and health issue(s) ahead of time.

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