March 30th is “Doctors’ Day,” a little-known legal holiday that came into being in 1990 when George W. Bush signed the legislation. Showing appreciation to these healthcare workers is especially poignant in 2021 given what they have gone through this past year. Starting back in 1933, sending cards or giving them a red carnation is still the traditional way to show our appreciation.
Medicine has changed tremendously during the intervening years and time well spent during a visit to the doctor may be a more appropriate way to show our appreciation. Today’s doctors are under extreme pressure to see enough patients, which research shows translates into the average doctor visit being between 10 – 20 minutes. This puts the responsibility on the patient and their advocate to maximize every minute.
Advocating for a Patient
Patient advocates are often family members but not everyone lives near their loved ones or can take time off from work for every doctor visit. This is where the help of professionals like an Aging Life Care Advisor ™ helps. Here at Springpoint at Home, our Aging Life Care Advisors are always an advocate for both the patient and the family. No time is more important than when they accompany someone on a doctor’s visit.
Preparing for a Doctor’s Visit
Follow this list of tips to prepare for your or your loved one’s next doctor visit.
Create a list of concerns in order of priority.
Send medical records and test results ahead of time if you are seeing a new specialist. Arrive 10–15 minutes early for a first visit to give yourself time to fill out paperwork.
Understand what tests will be done and if there are any special instructions like fasting before blood work.
If you or a loved one has sight or hearing issues, ask a family member, friend or professional to accompany you on the visit.
Bring a list of prescriptions or better yet, put them in a bag and include all over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal remedies in that bag.
Bring your insurance card and the name and contact information for all the other doctors you see. If they have done tests, bring those results as well.
Request an interpreter if you need one.
During the appointment
Be ready with a detailed and concise explanation (one minute or less) of why you made the appointment. It should include the reason for your visit, your symptoms and anything that is stressful in your personal life.
When you bring the doctor up to date on your symptoms, raise the issues that concern you the most first, so you don’t run out to time to address them. Include any changes in your eating, weight, sleep patterns or energy level. Let them know of any medication changes or additional prescriptions since the last visit.
Don’t let a companion take over the appointment. It is OK to ask them to step out of the room if you need to discuss something personal.
Additional Advice for Doctor Visits from Springpoint at Home Aging Life Care Advisors™
Rachel Glatt, MSW, LSW and an Aging Life Care Advisor™ says, “It’s good to have all the necessary documents filled out ahead of time and remind our patients about insurance cards and co-pays. However, the most important thing to me is time management. To have a dementia patient wait for an excessive period in the lobby is unacceptable. If the practice knows the doctor is running late, a phone call should be made ahead of time.”
Wendy Schutzer, MSG also tells us, “Copies of documents routinely requested by the doctor’s office like insurance cards, are important but having copies of blood pressure and glucose monitoring logs gives the doctor the information they need. Taking fastidious notes enables me to communicate to family members and complete accurate documentation of that visit. Whenever possible, prior to the visit I like to ask the client what he/she wants to address and after the visit I talk to the client about what transpired in order to gauge his/her understanding of the information that was provided and any recommendations.”
As the healthcare world changes, our staff quickly pivots to the new environments and needs. During the pandemic, one of our Aging Life Care Advisors attended client telemedicine visits which had been set up by the doctor’s office. These are just a few of the ways our Springpoint at Home Aging Life Care Advisors support and advocate for your loved one. To learn more about Springpoint at Home call, 844-724-1777.