Being Prepared for MD Appointments

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

Last week, I shared a blog post about creating a health summary/history that you can keep updated and share with your medical providers, both new and old. This summary/history is a concise yet complete list of your demographics, diagnoses, medications, surgeries, family history, and other pertinent health information. 

Taking this to the next level, I also recommend creating another document that you update and bring to every medical appointment, and let's call this document a "current health status report". 

Have you ever arrived to your healthcare provider's office and completely blanked out when it comes to remembering all of your concerns and questions that have been on your mind to ask? Have you arrived home after an appointment and kicked yourself for forgetting to ask your provider something very crucial? Well, creating such a status report for each and every medical appointment will change that! 

What to Include in Your Health Status Report

Your "Current Health Status Report" document is an up-to-date summary of your current medications, symptoms, questions and concerns.

This document will, of course, be different most every time you visit the doctor, and it will address your current concerns and help you to remember what to talk about! 

1) Like your health summary/history, always include your name, date of birth and other important demographics on every document you create for your provider. You can also include insurance information and other data. 

2) Include a list of all current prescription medications, supplements and over-the-counter medications so that your provider is 100% up-to-date on what you're taking.

3) Consider including a list of the other providers that you see, including specialists, mental health providers, massage therapists, dentists, etc.

4) List all of your primary current complaints and concerns, with a brief description of each. Take as much room as you want---this is your health, after all! 

5) Finally, provide a list of every concern and question that you have for your provider. He or she can use this as a guide for the conversation. If you also have a copy of the document in your hand, you can follow along and make sure each concern is addressed before you leave. 

A Historical Document

If you and your provider save a copy of every "health status report" that you bring to your appointments, this will provide a handy chronological history of your medications, concerns, questions and conditions that are addressed at each appointment. Looking back, you can evaluate your own history for trends and ongoing issues, and you can help yourself and your providers to take the long view of your healthcare, your progress, and your general overall well-being.

Do yourself and your providers a favor and create both your overall health history and these specific and timely health status reports. This will improve the quality of your care and facilitate communication and collaboration between you and your medical providers.