An annual wellness appointment is a valuable opportunity to talk with your
physician about your health care, including preventive measures, screenings
and tests to monitor your health, symptoms you may be experiencing, a
review of prescriptions, possible referrals to specialists and a physical
exam. That's a lot of ground to cover, which is why it's important
to come to the appointment prepared.
"Taking the time to get organized before the doctor's visit will
make that appointment more productive--you can make the most of your time
with your physician by focusing on the points you want to communicate
and providing the doctor with any needed background information," says
Christopher Celio, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician with
St. Joseph Hoag Health, and the medical director of DRIVE Wellness at Western Digital Corp.,
a collaborative initiative between Western Digital Corp. and our experts
at St. Joseph Hoag Health.
"Knowing ahead of time what you want to cover ensures you won't
forget anything important, such as a question you want answered or a refill
you need for a prescription."
Here's what Dr. Celio recommends you bring to your next appointment:
1. A family health history. "Knowing the genetic background of your family members--parents, grandparents
and siblings, for starters--can help your physician plan screenings for
any conditions that pose increased risk for you," Dr. Celio says.
"The doctor can also keep an eye out for certain symptoms or recommend
preventive solutions--if there is a history of diabetes in your family,
for instance, he may suggest a high-fiber, low sugar diet to help you
stave off the disease." The Surgeon General offers an online tool
for creating and maintaining a family health history; to learn more, click
2. A summary of your current health status. "It's important for your doctor to know anything special you're
doing to maintain your health," Dr. Celio says. "Draw up a list
of prescriptions--and why you take the medications. You should also include
any natural or homeopathic treatments you take. And jot down anything
else out of the ordinary. Are you on a vegan diet? Do you have a specialized
exercise program, such as weightlifting? This information can give your
doctor a fuller picture of your lifestyle choices as they relate to your
3. A list of questions for the doctor. If there are things on your mind, write them down so you don't forget
to ask the doctor about them during your appointment.
4. A notebook or your smartphone. You took the time to write down your questions for the doctor, so don't
forget to record the answers. "The doctor can impart a lot of information,
and you don't want to get home and realize you can't remember
what he said to do about your nagging cough or the steps to lower your
blood pressure," Dr. Celio says. "You can take notes with pen
and paper, or install an app on your phone or tablet that allows you to
input the information digitally. Some doctors are OK with you recording
the conversation with your smartphone, so ask if that's an option."
5. A health care file. "For easy access, you should put all your pertinent health information,
such as test results, notes from previous doctor visits, and diagnoses
and treatment plans for any illnesses, in one place, such as a notebook,"
Dr. Celio says. "Then you bring that to your appointments in case
you need to refer to it."
6. Insurance cards and form of payment. It's wise to always have your insurance information on hand, especially
if you've moved or changed insurance companies since your last visit.
When you set up the appointment, confirm what co-pay will be needed, if
any, and what forms of payment the doctor's office accepts.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.