Make the most of any health care appointment
(NC) What does it take to have a productive appointment with your health care professional? Proper planning and follow-up is key – not just by the professionals providing treatment, but also by patients.
“The best care results from a partnership,” says Linda Gough, president of the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges of Ontario (FHRCO). “To make the most of a visit, be prepared.”
FHRCO includes 26 regulatory colleges (www.regulatedhealthprofessions.on.ca), which hold nearly 300,000 member professionals accountable for their conduct and practice. Each of those professionals brings a wealth of abilities to every encounter. Here's what you should do before, during, and after a visit.
1. Before an appointment
Think about all the issues you want to discuss. Your health care professional may not be able to deal with everything in one visit, so prioritize. If you have lots of questions, write them down so you don't forget.
Review all the facts your health professional might need, from current symptoms to past treatments. Your time with the health care professional is limited, so consider how you'll present the information. If you have records to share – such as test results or lists of medications – organize them.
If you have language barriers, trouble understanding or communicating, or just want support, ask a family member or friend to come to the appointment with you.
2. During an appointment
Be honest and clear about your health needs and goals. When you're open, your health care professional can help you most appropriately. Avoid the “doorknob moment”. That's where you reveal your real concerns just as you or the professional is leaving.
“Any health care professional should also encourage questions,” says Gough. “The more information they have, the better they can apply their knowledge, skills and judgment.”
If you're unclear about the information your health care professional is giving you, keep asking questions, and have the professional re-phrase it using plain language. Before the appointment ends, repeat what you've learned in your own words. If it helps, write down key information or ask the health care professional to write it down. That way, you can confirm you're both on the same page around next steps.
3. After an appointment
Many appointments are only as effective as your own follow-up. If your health care professional recommends a course of action, refers you to another care specialist, or orders tests, it's up to you to play your part.
“Health care is a shared responsibility,” adds Gough. “By knowing what makes for a constructive visit and following through, you can help ensure that you receive high quality care.”
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