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5 Ways To Have A More Productive Doctor’s Visit

5 Ways To Have A More Productive Doctor’s Visit

Going to see the doctor can be a stressful experience. In ten to fifteen minutes you must explain your complaint, watch as your doctor examines you, then discuss the diagnosis and treatment plan. That’s a lot of information to absorb in a short period of time and it’s hardly surprising some patients leave their doctor’s office feeling bewildered.

The good news is that there are things that you can do to improve your experience at your doctor’s office, and these simple strategies can make a marked change in how you perceive the visit as well as your overall health outcomes. In this article we’ll discuss five such techniques for getting past the things you are probably doing wrong at your doctor’s appointment.

Write things down.

Studies have shown that patients cannot recall upwards of 40% of medical information that their doctor provided during a consultation. Yet, many patients don’t bring paper or pen nor do they ask their doctor to write down the details of their specific treatment plan.  The generic treatment handout is hardly a substitute for the detailed information the doctor provides during the visit.

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    It’s important to write the details down because medical errors are a fact of life.  Did the Doctor say 10mg of that medicine or 15mg?  Are you sure that the dose sent to the pharmacy is in fact correct and not just a typo made by an overworked and stressed medical professional?  Minor errors like these affect hundreds of thousands (ref) of Americans yearly, and are instantly and completely resolvable simply by writing things down and keeping your own records.

    You may also be able to significantly affect the outcome of your disease or injury through the simple act of taking psychological control of your health and keeping a journal of what your doctor said and how you plan to implement his recommendations. It’s remarkable how powerful writing things down can be.

    Pay attention to comments about lifestyle.

    Doctors spend countless hours telling their patients to pay attention to their lifestyle, to lose weight, to eat right, to take their blood pressure and diabetes medications as prescribed. Many patients simply ignore these recommendations and go on with their lives.

    If your doctor says you need to lose weight, you’d should ask how they recommend you do that rather than simply letting the comment pass.  If they say 30 minutes of exercise each day, then make a joint plan to do that, as well as a follow-up appointment when you can come back in and measure progress.   There’s a good chance that after listening to your question your doctor will be absolutely thrilled.  After all, how many patients take the time to engage with their physician and actually do what they are told?

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    Don’t expect a pill at every visit.

    Many patients expect a simple solution to their problems and nothing is simpler than popping a pill.  In many cases medication may not be required to resolve your problem, and the risk of side effects may outweigh the benefits. Doctors know this only too well, but may feel pressured by their patients who expect a pill as the outcome of the visit.

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      Before you agree to take a medication ask the doctor about the side effects, and question if the net benefit of the medicines outweighs the risks.  This simple candid question signals your willingness to not be one of “those people” who has to have pills when they are not needed and encourages your doctor to think of alternative therapies that could be used.

      One truly saddening side effect of our pill culture is addiction, and the number one controlled substance prescribed in the USA is OxyContin.  While it may seem like a good idea to get that script for a more powerful medicine just in case, or because your OTC medicine isn’t doing the job, avoid the temptation to use more powerful medicines unless they are absolutely required.  Remember, addiction is a terrifying force that wrecks homes and lives, and it all starts with that first pill.

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      Keep asking questions!

      Asking questions can be a highly effective way to turn a medical appointment into a productive time where both you and your doctor think of ways to better understand and treat your condition.  Questions focus your thoughts at a time when your natural tendencies to be distracted can overwhelm you.

      It’s always a good idea to come to the appointment with a list of questions written out and ready to go. I like to hand these to the doctor at the beginning of the appointment so they have a chance to really express their opinions on these points as we go, rather than waiting until the last five minutes.

      Be informed before the appointment.

      If you’re going to ask sensible questions during your appointment, you’ll probably need to do some research of your own before the appointment, particularly if it’s a follow up or a referral to a new doctor and you already have a preliminary diagnosis.

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        Researching medical conditions on the internet is a contentious issue as the amount of factual and accurate data out there is greatly outweighed by the mountains of “expert” opinions that can be found on almost very condition.  It’s important to use well curated resources such as WebMD, MedLine, as well as the websites of the major hospitals in the US such as the Mayo and Cleveland Clinic.

        The purpose of your research is not to challenge your doctor’s expertise by becoming an expert yourself.  It’s very easy to read a few short summary pages and think you can make a good diagnosis, but your doctor has years of experience in both the literature and the clinic to draw on, and is certainly in a better spot to answer questions.  You just need to be able to understand what’s being said so that you can make the best possible decisions in your own care, and research can help you do that.

        Featured photo credit: flickr via flickr.com

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        Colin Rhodes

        Chief Technology Officer

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        Last Updated on December 9, 2019

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

        Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

        Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

        1. Get Rationally Optimistic

        Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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        This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

        In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

        The result: no more mental stress.

        2. Unplug

        Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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        How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

        It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

        Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

        3. Easy on the Caffeine

        Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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        Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

        4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

        That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

        How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

        • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
        • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
        • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

        While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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        5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

        This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

        The result: mental stress will be gone!

        So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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        Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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