Getting the Most Out of your Doctor's Appointment | Health Insurance Basics

Health Insurance Basics

How to Get the Most Out of your Doctor’s Appointment

Scheduling a visit with a doctor is the first step to getting the care you need. The next step is getting ready for that visit.


It’s a good idea for you to play an active role in your healthcare and have clear communication with your doctor during and after your visit so you can make smart choices for your health.


With a few simple tips, you can be well prepared to share information with your doctor and feel more comfortable talking with them about any concerns you may have.


Make a List

Before your visit, make a few lists and bring them with you to the appointment, including:

  • List of medical problems, previous surgeries, and hospitalizations
  • List of medicines you are taking and any allergies to medication
  • List of health concerns to ask your doctor
  • List of recent emergency room visits, hospitalizations, tests, or other specialist visits
  • List of questions you have for the doctor
  • Before your visit, write down a few questions to ask the doctor and bring them with you to the appointment. For example:
    • “What are some things I can do to prevent illness?”
    • “Should I get the flu shot while I am here today?”
  • If your doctor recommends that you get a medical test or start taking a new medication, you may want to ask questions to find out more about them. For example:
    • “What’s the reason for getting the test?”
    • “What will the test results tell me?”
    • “How long will it take to get my test results back?”
    • “What does the medicine do?”
    • “Are there any side effects?”
    • “Are there other medications that work the same way?”
  • Tell your doctor if you don’t understand what they are telling you. You can say things like:
    • “Can you say that again? I don’t really understand what you mean.”
    • “Do you have a video, demonstration, brochures or other materials that can help me understand better?”


You may also consider bringing a family member to your appointment with you and taking down notes about what the doctor says so you can reference it at a later date. You can also discuss how to access your medical records so you can keep track of important information like test results, diagnoses and medications. This will help you prepare for your next appointment, too.


It’s easy to rush through a doctor’s appointment or forget to talk about concerns that are important to you. However, you should feel comfortable having an open and honest dialog with your doctor and ask questions so that you make sure you understand your health issues, treatments and recovery.

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