Are you going to see a new healthcare provider? If so, you may have questions for her or him. You can prepare for your appointment by writing down your questions and prioritizing them. Some of these things can be answered by the office staff so that you aren’t using your appointment time unnecessarily. Here are some questions you may want to include on your list:
- Is your health insurance accepted? If so, be certain you understand any co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs for which you may be responsible.Does the office bill your insurance or will you need to pay the fee directly and manage the insurance reimbursement yourself?
- If you are seeing a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, then who is the physician overseeing his/her practice?
- Which hospitals is the physician affiliated with?
- How can the physician be contacted for emergencies?
- Are you at risk for any medical conditions because of your ethnic background or health history? Does the doctor need to test for these?
- If medication is prescribed, what are the side effects and how should the medication be taken?
- If your doctor makes a treatment suggestion and it is not one that you are prepared to follow, what are the alternatives?
- Discuss the follow-up plan. If you are scheduled to have diagnostic tests, ask the doctor when you can expect results and how will these results be conveyed to you. If the results are going to be disclosed at your next appointment and if there is going to be a long interval between appointments, ask how you can obtain earlier results.
- What is the best way to contact his/her office should a need arise that may not require an office visit?
- If you run out of time and still have more questions on your list, ask how you might be able to get answers to your questions without disrupting the physician’s schedule. Are there are resources he or she would recommend.
Before you start asking the questions on your list, find out how much time your provider has for questions. Respect the time constraints that the provider has. You are building a relationship, one that works best if there is trust. If you respect your healthcare provider’s time, likely he or she will respect yours.