Tips to maximize visits to the doctor

LOS ANGELES Working in sales, Evelyn Greathouse knows the value of time.

"As everyone else, and my friends included, we all feel very busy and rushed for time," says Greathouse.

So whenever she sees her doctor, Greathouse wants to make the most of her visit. First on the list is to make a list.

"To maximize my visits, I often come in prepared. Knowing what I'm going to see the doctor for, knowing questions that I would like to have answered, so that he or she can address them when I'm there," says Greathouse.

"It's actually quite valuable for a patient to bring a list of their concerns to the appointment," says Dr. John De Beixedon of Huntington Hospital.

De Beixedon says these days, many family doctors see about 25 to 30 patients a day, whereas in the1970s, the average internist saw eight to 12 patients a day.

"The problem is time, now, is quite small, and so you have to figure out ways to actually try and expand time," De Beixedon explains.

To maximize your face time with a new doctor, call the office and suggest you get your blood and lab work done before your first visit.

"If you already have the test, then you can tell the people, 'Look your sugar is well controlled, or look, we really have to work on this cholesterol, or the blood tests show your kidneys are being damaged by your high blood pressure,'" the doctor says.

"But yes, it makes it much easier if the labs are in your hand," he adds.

And since time is such a rare commodity, make a reasonable list and address the most important concerns first.

Though many people complain about the wait, if most patients showed up on time it would help doctors stay on schedule.

"I know that people do have emergencies and people have extra questions that they need answered. And I do understand that, so I don't mind waiting some," says Greathouse.

Another tip that can help make your doctor's visits go smoother is to call for you lab results. Sometimes doctors can't leave messages for privacy reasons, so it's important that you make contact if you don't hear back.

De Beixedon says despite the fact everyone is on email, don't rely on email to relay your health concerns.

"If people want to get the doctor as quick as possible, I say use the phone. That's the direct way to the doctor," suggests De Beixedon.

Greathouse says the best way to ensure clear communication between you and your doctor is to find someone you trust and like.

"Someone that has a good personality and a good sense of humor because in medicine, I think that's really important," she describes.

Also, surveys show that people who bring a friend or family member to the appointment get more out of the appointment when that friend or relative can take notes for them.

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