With the internet, everything we need to know these days is just a “click” away. The ease of “googling” any subject we want to know more about has empowered us; made us informed thinkers, “educated consumers”.
So why is it, that in the most important area of our lives-our health-many of us still take such a passive role in our care? Perhaps it’s because in our parent’s day, we learned that “good patients” followed “doctor’s orders”.
Fortunately, times have changed. Doctor and patient now view themselves as teammates with the shared goal of improving the quality of care provided. Before an appointment, today’s patients do their homework, often using internet resources to gather information and formulate questions for the appointment.
How do physicians feel about patients being so involved in their own care? “I absolutely encourage it” says Dr. Kristina Anton-Schnell of North Shore Primary Care, located at Beverly Hospital at Danvers. “Being prepared ensures that important issues will be covered thoroughly and helps the patient get the most out of their appointment.”
How should patients “prepare” for an appointment? Dr. Anton-Schnell provides this helpful checklist:
- Bring your medical records or have them transferred before your appointment
- Bring a list of any specialists you see and their phone numbers.
- Make notes about your health history. Share this information upfront.
- Make a list of your medications, doses and any allergies you have.
- Make a list of your symptoms and concerns.
- Use on-line information sources such as webmd.com, uptodate.com and emedicine.medscape.com.
- Bring print-outs to discuss.
- Bring a list of your questions.
- Make sure your questions are focused on the specific issue which has brought you to the doctors office.
What are the important questions to ask?
- If medications are prescribed or additional procedures or testing are recommended, ask about the benefits and the risks.
- Ask if there are other treatment options.
- Ask if it would be helpful to get a second opinion.
- Ask if you need a follow-up appointment.
- If you’re confused about anything your physician says, ask them to repeat or clarify.
The real issue, says Dr. Anton-Schnell, is that “you need to find a physician you can work with. Keeping you healthy is a team effort. The information you provide, the questions you ask help us to provide better care. I tell my patients, ‘you only have one bodyÂ…one life. Take care of it.’ The more informed and proactive you are, the better we can help you do that.”
If you decide it’s time to look for a new physician, we can help. The professionals at the Beverly Hospital HealthConnection will listen to your needs and recommend some names that might be good matches. One more tip. Before you choose a physician, meet with them for a consult. Feel free to interview them. Ask questions. Do they listen attentively? Do they provide good answers? Get a sense of personality and “bed-side manner”. Does it feel like it would be a good match? Go For it!
If you’d like to find a physician who is right for you, call our HealthConnection at 888-253-0800 weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Or, visit us online at beverlyhospital.org/findadoctor.
85 Herrick Street, Beverly, MAÂ 01915