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Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 05:00 AM

9 Steps to prepare for an effective visit with your doctor

Do your homework!

The key to having a successful doctor’s appointment is to be prepared, Marshall Medical’s risk manager told a group of seniors during a GoldCare+ lunch ‘n learn. Hollie Powell, director of care coordination, urged the group to do their homework as patients in order to have the best doctor visit possible. 

She suggested taking the following steps to prepare to see your physician:

  • Bring someone along to your appointment. 

“Bring your coach,” she said. “It’s always good to have a second set of ears.”

  • Bring a list of questions and number them according to priority.
  • Bring your medications or a list with dosage and frequency.
  • Bring a recorder or pen and paper, as well as a calendar to schedule future appointments. 

Powell suggested writing down questions to ask so you don’t forget. The following questions are important:

  • What is my diagnosis? Is it permanent or reversible? Will it get worse?

“Tell your doctor if you don’t understand,” she advised. 

  • Are treatments available? Does my insurance cover it?  How do I take the medication and when will I see results? 
  • Is a follow-up appointment needed? Are you willing to respond to email?
  • What is the test expected to tell me? Any risks or side effects? When will I have results? 
  • Will I need to see a specialist or another physician?

Powell also educated the group on what to do upon being admitted to a hospital and what to communicate about their discharge plans such as home health services, rehab placement, and medical equipment needs. She also advised good communication about legal issues such Advance Directives, and any health care planning. 

“Make sure you ask questions before you leave the hospital,” she said. “We’re trying to build a continuity of care from the hospital to every degree of care you need.”

Another suggestion was to keep a medical notebook with dates, symptoms, treatments, doctors providing care and medication. 

 “The outcomes of good communication with your healthcare provider is that patients are more satisfied with their care, they report more understanding and control over their illness, and have improvements in their medical conditions,” she said.  

GoldCare55+ is a program for Marshall County seniors sponsored by Marshall Medical Centers. Lunch ‘n learns are held monthly at the Guntersville Senior Center. Doors open at 11:15 am. Lunch is served at 11:30. Program starts at noon. For more information about the program, please call (256)571-8025 or 753-8025 for Arab area residents. Or to download an application visit