3:13 pm - Thursday December 18, 5360

Doctor Visit Tips‏

Coping with Time-Crunched Physicians
What Patients Can Do to Get the Most Out of Their Office Visit

It’s not your imagination – you’re getting less time with your doctor.

Primary care physicians are in short supply in the United States,
which means increased pressures and heavier workloads for those in
practice, says Dr. Paul Griner, (www.drpaulgriner.com), author of “The
Power of Patient Stories: Learning Moments in Medicine.”

“Many physicians say their favorite part of being a doctor is the
relationships they form with patients, but those are harder to
cultivate now because physicians are so squeezed for time,” Griner

More than 80 percent of physicians said patient relationships were the
“most satisfying” part of their job, according to a survey of more
than 13,000 doctors last year by The Physicians Foundation.

But nearly 40 percent said they were seeing 11 to 20 patients a day,
and nearly 27 percent had a daily load of 21 to 30. On top of that,
they spent an average 22 percent of their day on paperwork that had
nothing to do with patient care.

“A good doctor-patient relationship is essential to achieving the best
possible care, but the reality is, most doctors have less and less
time to spend with each patient,” Griner says. “So it’s important for
patients to take some responsibility for that relationship, too.”

By preparing for your visit, you can ensure you make the best use of
your time together, he says.

He offers the following suggestions:

• Prepare your thoughts ahead of time so that you can be as precise
and accurate as possible. What are the symptoms? When did they begin?
What were you doing at the time? How are the symptoms affected by
activity or rest? What makes them worse? Have you been able to do
anything to relieve the symptoms? How have they affected your daily
activities? Don’t withhold any information that might be relevant to
your symptoms.

• Be on time or early. Up to 15 percent of patients are late for their
doctor’s appointment, which adds to the time crunch. Arrive early so
you’re ready when the physician, or the physician’s team, is ready.
While the doctor is the senior person on the team, he or she also
relies on advanced practice nurses and physician’s assistants, who
have received extensive training in their areas of responsibility.
Give them time to obtain your medical history or perform preliminary
tests. Their functions are an important aspect of the overall quality
of the visit, so it’s important to allow for that time. View the wait
as valuable personal time for reading and relaxation.

• Research your health concerns ahead of time and use the information
to help focus your questions. Use reliable sources for research,
including www.mayoclinic.com or www.uptodate.com ; information from
the well-established and respected organizations such as the National
Cancer Society; and written materials such as the Harvard Health

• Avoid unnecessary office visits. Some things can be done by e-mail,
Skype (or other video hookups), or new technology such as iPhone
recording and transmission of your EKG.

Other things you can do to make the best use of the visit include:

• Bring your medications, or a list of them, with you.

• Bring copies of the results of tests or procedures from other physicians.

• Wear clothes that make it easy for you to be examined.

• Let your doctor know when you are using any complementary or
alternative medicine.

• Bring a spouse or other relative with you when the problem is
complicated. Two pairs of ears are better than one for remembering
what the doctor said.



Filed in: health / salud