So you need to go to the doctor for a little problem, or your doctor has told you to schedule an annual appointment. Here are some tips to communicating effectively so the office can give you the best care possible. (Which is what you deserve!)
#1. Know what you’re calling for. It’s important you tell the person making you an appointment the reason you wish to be seen. Keep it concise but include any pertinent details. Don’t go into your whole medical history or flood the conversation with too many details because the person booking you is most likely not a doctor or nurse. It’s a good idea to write down a little list of things you need to address in the conversation before you pick up the phone. If you’re calling for an exam, be sure you know the name of the procedure and when your doctor asked you to have it.
#2. Speak clearly. This is absolutely mandatory if you are calling about medical needs. You want to be scheduled for the correct appointment or procedure. Be sure you don’t mumble or talk too fast either. This will avoid a prolonged or misheard conversation. When you get your appointment date and time, repeat it back to the person you’re speaking with to make sure it’s correct.
#3. Know your availability. You’re an adult, you have a schedule. So be sure you have a calendar with you and tell the person what days and times work the best for you. Make your appoitment when you have free hands, don’t do it while driving. The healthcare facility you’re speaking with has other patients to attend to, so don’t waste time asking them to throw out random dates.
#4. Listen. If you’re doing all the talking, you are handicapping the office personnel’s effort to help and guide you. If you ask a question and the person answers it, don’t ask it in three other different ways or try to ask for too much more detail. If you dig too deep, you may miss key points they are trying to give you. The nurse or scheduler will give you any information you need. Don’t interrupt and have a pen and paper ready for any things you need to know prior to your appointment.
#5. Be courteous. This should be obvious, but I’m going to mention it anyhow. The person getting you in for an exam is trying their best to help you. They don’t skip days or weeks ahead before offering you a date. You will be offered the soonest time slot available for your type of appointment. If you want an appointment sooner, yelling or getting impatient isn’t going to help you. Ask if there is a cancellation list, or if you can work anything out. If not, you may need to either wait, or go to a different facility.
#6. Arrive early to your appointment and bring any important information with you. Don’t come too late to your appointment. If you are running late, know that it happens to many people so the office won’t be angry with you. Be sure to call if this happens, apologize and graciously ask if they can still see you. Don’t forget to bring your current insurance information and have any other information necessary to your appointment with you. Things such as -paperwork for your exam, lists of your medications/drugs you’re allergic to or medical history- are pertinent to have with you, if you wish to make the most of your time spent there.
If you follow all of these steps, then you are playing your part in helping your physician give you optimal healthcare. Your well being is important to their office and like any relationship, communication is vital. It also keeps your income manageable if you don’t need to go back for more appointments, because you forgot to cover everything. Copayments and fees can add up so try to fit as much into your exam as possible.