BCBS Georgia: Partnering with Your
Primary Care Doctor for Good Health
It will come as no surprise to many that there is a shortage of primary care physicians, and as the administration fights for health care reform that pushes for preventative care including additional well-visits, that shortage will be even more strongly felt—it may be difficult to get office visits, and you may feel rushed when visiting your doctor. However, with a little advanced preparation, you can become a partner with your doctor in your own care.
Most doctors have become doctors because they enjoy taking care of people. They are as much a victim of their own schedules as are their patients; thus, you feel rushed and flustered, and as a result forget the questions that you planned to ask—but as you try to follow up over the phone, may find a level of frustration in reaching the caregiver. The solution: prepare for an office visit with questions to ask. Know what you wish to get out of your visit, you will likely find that you are able to feel reassured and secure after an office appointment.
BCBS of Georgia has teamed up with patients and doctors to create the following checklist.
- Track all of your medications and be sure that the list is up to date—don’t forget about vitamins and over-the-counter meds, as well. Note dosage and frequency. You’ll thus help the doctor avoid prescribing counter-productive medications or those that might have adverse effects when taken together, and won’t forget something when asked to orally give a list. Furthermore, the doctor may be able to determine if certain symptoms which led you to the doctor visit in the first place were caused by medications.
- Take the time to put into writing your problems and symptoms—including how you felt physically and mentally, whether the symptoms are getting better or worse, if anything seemed to make them better (or worse)—then, you can be more precise when describing your condition to your doctor.
- Think about things in your life that may be affecting your health and don’t feel foolish bringing them up—emotional issues, family support issues, diet changes—it all relates to your overall well-being.
- If your doctor prescribes a new medication or offers a new diagnosis, write down what you hear and ask for any literature they have. Sometimes things can seem overwhelming in the doctor’s office, and with time and the ability to focus on clearly written materials, you’ll have a better understanding of your own health.
- Bring a friend—or a family member—to help; another set of ears often helps with later discussion about what was said, and your impression can be compared with your trusted person’s version. Good health is often about good support.
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