Getting the Most Out of a Doctor’s Appointment

Appointments_ShutterstockRegularly visiting a primary care doctor is an important component of staying healthy, but many people might not be taking full advantage of their one-on-one time with providers. A doctor’s visit is useful not only for addressing current health issues, but also for checking in about important screenings, immunization updates and any other wellness services that might be needed. In addition, some patients might not be aware of how to fully utilize their health insurance coverage to achieve the best care at an affordable cost. With an increasing number of people obtaining health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, many individuals have new options for taking control of their health care that they didn’t before. Fortunately, there are several helpful steps people can take to make the most out of each doctor’s appointment and to ensure their health insurance coverage is fully utilized.

Provider visits

Provide Family History

Health care providers are better equipped to offer thorough assessments when patients supply accurate information about common illnesses in their families. It’s helpful for patients to update their family histories before visiting their provider and to take note of any diseases or conditions that have occurred among immediate or extended family members. This information can help providers determine a person’s risk for many chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Be Forthcoming about Personal Practices

It’s important for patients to be honest with physicians about their personal lifestyles, including their diet and exercise regimen, especially if their daily habits might put them at higher risk for any diseases. Providers can help design patients’ overall wellness plans based on this personal information, including recommending an improved meal plan or a more effective exercise regimen.

Compile a List of all Current Medications

Providers often request for patients to bring them a list of all current medications they are taking in order to ensure none of these prescriptions are counteracting each other or are dangerous to take at the same time. Some patients obtain prescriptions from multiple health care providers who aren’t aware of their other medications, making it important for the primary care provider to oversee all of their medications. It could be useful for patients to look into pursuing coordinated care, where this is a high priority.

Ask about Screenings

Health experts recommend a variety of wellness screenings for many patients who meet specific parameters. Some patients might also be due for vaccinations for certain illnesses, including shingles, tetanus and pneumonia. It is important for patients to ask their providers about which of these preventative measures they need to pursue based on their age, family health history and lifestyle.

Insurance Coverage

There are also specific measures that can help people take full advantage of their health insurance benefits, including:

Utilize Discounts

Many health insurance plans offer free or discounted preventative health and wellness services, including gym memberships. Utilizing these discounts can provide tools for people to improve their overall health and reduce the need for medical care down the road.

Pursue Health Screenings

Some plans also offer free screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index. This information can be useful in working with health care providers to monitor patients’ overall health and also set target goals to improve these measurements.

Ensure your Plan Meets all your Needs

It is useful for patients to select a health insurance plan that covers all treatments and preventative services necessary for themselves and their families. This should include choosing a plan with coverage for anticipated needs, especially if patients are expecting high-cost medical situations such as surgeries or pregnancies.

HealthCare Partners strives to promote doctor-patient engagement as well as preventative health care services through its Total Care Model, a coordinated approach to health care in which a dedicated team of primary care providers, specialists and professional staff work together to manage all aspects of patients’ care and overall health, resulting in improved results and lower costs. Patients also have access to integrated tools to manage all of their health care needs, including a Patient Access Line and online portal Follow My Health. To learn more about HealthCare Partners, please visit