Empower Your Health: A Guide to Making the Most of Your Doctor's Visit

4/23/2024 | Mary Lareine Pastoral, MD

In your journey toward better health, your voice matters most. By taking proactive steps and engaging with your primary care provider effectively, you can ensure that your concerns are addressed, and your health needs are met.  Dr. Mary Lareine Pastoral shares some tips on how you make the most of your next doctor's visit. 

Keep Your Records Updated:  

Take control of your health journey by ensuring your medical records reflect recent changes, prescriptions, or procedures. By updating your MyChart account or electronic medical record, you provide your primary care provider with a clearer picture of your health status, empowering informed decision-making. 

Prepare Discussion Points:  

Make the most of your time with your primary care provider by preparing a list of topics to discuss. “Coming prepared for your visit allows you to take an active role in your healthcare concerns," says Dr. Pastoral. This preparation allows you to steer the conversation towards your priorities and concerns.

Here are some prompts to guide your conversation: 

  • Recent changes in health or mobility: Should you be concerned?
  • Family history: When to start screening and preventive measures.
  • Age-specific health conditions to be aware of.
  • Treatment options aligned with your health goals.
  • Lifestyle adjustments for optimal health.
  • Understanding pain, discomfort, stress, and anxiety levels.
  • Accessing free community resources for support. 

Ask Questions and Seek Clarification:  

Dr. Pastoral says your appointment is an opportunity for open communication about your health. Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification if something is unclear. It is completely normal to feel nervous about asking questions but remember that your healthcare provider is there to help you. Anything discussed is confidential, and you should feel confident that there will be no judgment on the side of the provider. Understanding your provider's recommendations and insights is vital for making informed decisions about your health. While it may be tempting to save your questions for your next WebMD deep dive, Dr. Pastoral explains why a primary care provider is a better resource. “While the internet provides a lot of information, not all sources are reliable. Your healthcare provider has undergone extensive training and has access to the most up-to-date, evidence-based medical information. Your primary care provider can also offer a personalized plan based on your unique history.” By actively engaging in dialogue, you can leave your appointment with clarity on your health status and a clear plan for moving forward.  

Being an advocate for your health means actively participating in your healthcare journey. By updating your medical records, preparing talking points, and asking questions during your primary care visit, you empower yourself to make informed decisions about your well-being. Your health is worth advocating for. 

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