Be your own healthcare champion: 5 simple questions to ask your provider

Do you walk out of your doctor’s office with questions you wish you had asked during the appointment? Starting a conversation with your healthcare provider can be overwhelming and stressful—especially if you feel rushed and unprepared.

Use these five simple questions to get answers on the spot before deciding on any test or treatment. Why? Because more care doesn’t always mean better care. A conversation with your provider can help you avoid unnecessary, duplicative, or overly risky care. It can also help build a better relationship with your provider and leave you feeling more informed and relaxed after your appointment.

1.  Do I really need this test or procedure?
Ask your doctor to tell you if you really need the treatment, test or procedure and how it will make a difference.

2.  What are the downsides?
Your doctor should clearly outline the risks of the treatment, test or procedure so that you can balance them with the potential benefits.

3.  Are there simpler, safer options?
You should know all your choices to determine the right one for you.

4.  What happens if I do nothing?
Sometimes, doing nothing can be an option to consider seriously.

5.  How much does it cost?
Consider your out-of-pocket costs. A simpler treatment may cost less money and be just as effective.

More care doesn’t always mean better care

In healthcare, some services are provided more often than necessary, and that can do more harm than good. Some examples of potentially avoidable care include taking antibiotics when you don’t need them, receiving x-rays, MRIs or CT scans, or going to the emergency room for problems that don’t require special care. Check out the Community Checkup website to see how medical groups, clinics, and hospitals rank in potentially avoidable care. Learn more about making decisions about treatment. A little research may help you avoid unnecessary costs.

Tips to prepare you for your appointment

  • Write down your questions. Better yet, print out this handy pocket card and carry it in your wallet for easy access anytime.
  • Bring a notebook and pen to write down the doctor’s responses.
  • Grab a business card at the front desk and write down the doctor’s information such as the name of the medical assistant/nurse and direct phone number (if available), your doctor’s office hours, the best time to call, etc.

What other tips do use to maximize your doctor’s appointments? We want to hear from you! Let us know and we’ll share your tips.


Source: Washington Health Alliance, Own Your Health

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