Planning for appointments
and prescriptions benefits you
By: Craig Ward, Raiter Clinic Administrator
An appointment with a health care provider can be a busy and stressful event. Much information is exchanged and shared in a limited amount of time. The good news is there are a number of things you, the patient, can do to maximize your use of this important time.
Most involve planning and preparation. The first occurs when you schedule your appointment. Don’t wait until the last minute or put off scheduling an appointment that you know you need. Calling ahead, well in advance, benefits you because you can pick a time and day that are convenient for you. In addition, if you have a set appointment (versus walking in without one) you will spend less time waiting. It is also less likely that your issue with become more serious or even become an emergency.
In some cases, a patient needs to have lab work completed before an appointment. Calling ahead allows for the work to be completed, making the actual appointment more efficient and effective. Your health care provider will have access to the results and can make decisions based on them.
Of course, there are instances when you become ill suddenly and you need to see a health care provider as soon as possible. You should still call the clinic and make an appointment and let them know about your situation. The clinic will be able to pull your medical records and be ready for you when you arrive.
It’s helpful to understand that Monday mornings are typically busy call times for the clinic as people who have become ill over the weekend call in then. If you are calling to schedule a regular appointment (versus one for an acute illness) try to call at a time other than Monday morning. The same goes for a day after a holiday. Calling during those times may mean extra waiting.
When you call to make an appointment, it’s helpful to briefly tell the receptionist if you have just one or multiple medical issues you wish to address. This helps the clinic to know how much time to schedule for your appointment. If you have a number of issues, you may need to come in for two separate appointments, depending on your particular situation.
If you anticipate that you will need a prescription refill, it is helpful to let the office know so they can prepare for that. In general, allowing at least a week when requesting a renewal helps to ensure that you don’t run out of a needed medication. Communicating in advance saves you time in the long run.
Before your appointment, make a list of your health concerns. Include information on when the problem started, if it is constant or sporadic, severity and variables that make it better or worse. Leave room on the list to take notes about your health care provider’s advice and recommendations for each item.
Providing your health care provider with accurate and complete medical information benefits you because your health care provider will have a full picture of your situation and will be able to make decisions based on the facts. When you go to an appointment bring:
• A list of all the medications you take with dosages – both prescription and over the counter. To save yourself time, you can put the medication bottles in a zip-lock bag and show that to your health care provider.
• The names and contact information for other providers who are treating you, along with any recommendations they have given you.
• A list of medical issues you have or have had in the past.
• Your insurance card. It’s helpful for you to know information about any co-pay amounts and deductibles.
Often, much information and advice is exchanged during a medical appointment. It can be a challenge to remember all that is said. You can bring a notebook to take notes. Another option is to bring a trusted friend or family member with you. They can serve as a second set of eyes and ears as well as provide support during the visit.
If, for some reason, you are not able to make your appointment, please call and let the clinic know. This helps the schedulers and your health care provider maximize treatment to other patients needing care.
Your relationship with your health care provider is an important one; your health depends on it. Make the effort to make sure you get the most out of medical appointments by scheduling and planning for them in advance. Your health care provider wants to give you the best treatment possible, and you play an important role in helping him or her do just that.
Craig Ward is the administrator at Raiter Clinic in Cloquet.