Getting the Most Out of Your Doc Visit

headshot_whitecoat
Dr. Jen Mushtaler (OB JEN)

We all know that scheduling timely and routine visits to the doctor is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle.  However, many patients feel like their visits to the doctor are rushed. Here are some helpful tips from the insiders to help you get the most out of your appointment.

Scheduling is key.

First step to a successful visit is in the scheduling. Make sure you let the scheduler know what you need to address with the doctor so that your doctor can schedule the appropriate amount of time. Otherwise, your doctor may then be rushed to give everything full attention, and sometimes additional procedures need prior authorization with insurance. In our office, we try to schedule patient’s appropriate time based on the stated reason for the visit.

Plan head so you are not rushed.

Second, make sure you are not rushed for your appointment. We have had patients try to squeeze something in before they have to pick-up children or make a work meeting or another appointment. Ask the scheduler what is a reasonable amount of time to allot for your visit. Also, some days of the week may be more or less busy in the doctor’s office and may require more time. Many things can happen at your appointment time to get even the best planned schedules behind, so give a little extra wiggle room in case.

Bring a list of your medications with you.

Bring an accurate list of your medications with you to your appointment. Better yet, bring all your prescriptions and any vitamins with you. Some medications can interfere with each other or worse, be harmful, so you want your medical providers to have an up-to-date and complete list. Also, be sure your provider knows if you have stopped medications as well. New to the doctor? Bring a written list of any medical issues and previous surgeries.

Bring a list of questions for the doc.

Most of my patients are great about jotting down questions for their visit on their phone or I-pad or an old-fashioned piece of paper. I love it and encourage all patients to do that. It is easy to get nervous or even side-tracked during a visit and then remember after you left that you wanted to ask about something that did not get covered. Also, let your doctor know at the beginning of the visit that you brought your questions. It helps us to plan the time during your visit to allow for discussion.

Getting additional tests?

Ask your doctor specifically what labs they will order so you can make sure that those labs are drawn. Then make sure you know the timeline for your results and how those will be communicated. Some offices are able to let patients check their own results online. In our office, we notify patients of results. I am not a fan of no news is good news because I have seen results get lost that need follow-up.

Getting a new prescription?

Confirm with your doctor what medications are being ordered. Most prescriptions are now faxed electronically, but to be your own best advocate you should know what medications you are taking, old and new. Also, sometimes pharmacies will offer to substitute generics and that’s when some mistakes can happen.

Check prescription coverage with your insurance company.

Another helpful hint, if you know you will be needing a particular type of medication, check to see what the level of coverage is with your insurance company. Different medications may have different co-pays, so if your doctor knows what is covered at tier 1, they may be able to help guide you to something more affordable and just as effective. Unfortunately, we don’t have that information and it is certainly not our intention to prescribe a medication the patient will be unable to take because of costs. For example, birth controls are covered by insurers now, but not all name brands or types may be covered by a particular plan. Don’t forget to have your pharmacy of choice ready to give your doctor’s office as well.

Happy scheduling!

Remember, the best way to get the most out of your appointment is to make sure that both you and your doctor’s office have scheduled appropriately and that you are prepared with an up-to-date list of medicines and concerns to be addressed.

To schedule an appointment with Capital Ob/Gyn Associates of Texas, visit www.capobgyn.com or call 512-83-OB-JEN.


Pap and a Piece of Chocolate

I am going to let you in on a little secret. I have been practicing obstetrics and gynecology for over ten years now, I have cared for thousands of women through all manner of women’s medical issues, I have been pregnant and delivered two wonderful daughters, and I still dread going to the ob/gyn for my exam.

Will my ob/gyn use the plastic or the metal speculum? Did I shave too much or too little? Oh, fiddlesticks! I just realized I totally forgot to shave my legs, and I will have to leave my socks on because I am way overdue nail polish on my toes. Oh please Lord let my deodorant be working extra hard today because I can’t stop thinking about plastic or metal and now I am beginning to perspire and my
appointment isn’t until this afternoon. Yes, ob/gyn’s dread their own ob/gyn exams, too.

A few years ago my young girls became accomplished statisticians. They had concluded with reasonable probability that if we were going to visit the pediatrician, one or both of them would be statistically likely to receive a shot. Not wanting them to dread (read violently resist) going, I proposed that if they
received a shot, we would go for a treat of their choice afterwards. It worked!

Then I had a wonderful thought! What if my patients were to receive a small treat to ease the anxiety of coming to the ob/gyn? Something sweet and thoughtful that acknowledges that you might not have really wanted to, but you came in to take care of yourself? Sitting in a jar on the table you will ALWAYS find an assortment of small chocolates. Please help yourself, and we won’t tell anyone if you take two pieces.
We know, we understand; you were very brave.

To schedule an appointment with Capital Ob/Gyn Associates of Texas – Home of Pap and a Piece of Chocolate – please visit www.capobgyn.com or call 512-83-OB-JEN.