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Be prepared for your clinic visit
Four things to expect at every doctor visit
A good office visit is a win-win for you and your doctor. It's what you both want, and you play a big part in making it happen. "Research shows that patients who are active in their own care do better," said Steven Bergeson, MD, clinic doctor and medical director for quality at Allina Health.
You should experience these four things every time you see your doctor:
1. The doctor pays attention to your main concern.
Before your visit, write down the main reason you're seeing the doctor, why it's important and what you expect to happen at your appointment. If you have several concerns, make a list of them all.
"Bring up your main concern first so you discuss it before time runs out," said Bergeson. "If you don't get to everything, ask for an appointment to come back."
2. The doctor explains in a way you understand.
If you don't understand, speak up and ask questions. If you do understand, double check.
Repeat what the doctor said in your own words. "Let me see if I understand, doctor. You said …"
Bring a friend or relative to help ask questions and take notes.
3. The doctor reviews your medications.
This means prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and supplements, like vitamins and herbals. Bring the bottles or an up-to-date list. Check why, when and how to take each medicine, and which side effects to watch for and what to do about them.
"Often, patients are the only ones who know everything they take," said Bonnie Senst, director, Allina Health Pharmacy Services. "Be sure to provide a complete list to all doctors and pharmacies you use. They can check whether any medicines could be causing problems or interacting with one another."
4. The doctor gives you a written plan.
After each visit, be sure you know:
These details can be hard to remember once you leave the exam room, so ask for them in writing. Allina Health offers patients an After-Visit Summary document that includes this information.
Clear communication means good care
The Teach-back Method is a way for health care providers to make sure they are communicating clearly with their patients.
During a clinic visit or hospital stay, your doctor or other caregiver will say, "I want to make sure I communicated clearly. Could you tell me what you heard me say?" Then, if needed, information can be presented another way that's easier for you to understand.
This four-minute video gives an example of what to expect when your health care provider uses the Teach-back Method.
Have you guys heard of Teach-back?
Teach-back is a new way of educating patients, where they have to state to you in their own words what you're teaching them about. Studies have shown benefits, especially for patients recalling information.
Allina Health has begun work with the Institute for Health Care Improvement, to improve patient education. The focus was to study heart failure patients at Unity, but what we have found can be applied to all patients. The first thing we learned was that we tend to teach in too much detail.
In the next few minutes, you're going to see demonstrated, the Teach-back technique. Many of us learned in medical school and nursing school how important patient education is. One of the things that we don't really realize is that only about 50 percent of what we teach patients is retained. So by the time my patients leave my office and end up in the waiting room, half of what I've told them has been lost.
Now here's your copy of the after visit summary that we just went over. Now I want to be sure that I did a good job explaining about asthma and your inhaler. What will you say to your family, when you leave the clinic today?
Well, they know I had the appointment, so they're going to want to know how it went, and I'll just have to let them know the doctor says I have asthma and that I need to start using an inhaler.
Yep, that's right. Can you tell me a little bit about asthma? You can start and I can fill in some details.
Sure, from what I understand my lungs get clogged and it makes it hard for me to breathe sometimes and one of the things I've been told to stay away from are smokers.
That's right. Let's take a look here at your after visit summary and then also this packed called managing your asthma and you're right, asthma can cause the airways in your lungs to get inflamed and constricted, making it hard to breathe, but your inhaler will help things open up, so you can breathe a little bit easier.
And I'm glad you mentioned smoking. Staying away from smoking is the right thing to do, along with staying away from these other things listed here in your packet. These things are called triggers. And can you think of any other triggers that might be around you?
Yep, one in particular, our neighbors – we do a lot with our neighbors and they have two old English sheepdogs and they're always with them and when they come over to our house, those dogs always are leaving big clouds of fur behind, so I'm sure that's something I'm going to have to start keeping an eye out for.
Yeah, that's right. Sounds good. Now you said you work full time?
Okay, when do you think you'll be able to use your inhaler?
Well I plan on using it in the morning, when I get ready for work and then I'll plan on taking that second dosage when I get home from work in the evening.
That's perfect. That's exactly what the doctor has written in your instructions here on your after visit summary.
And also on this after visit summary, you can find the steps that we went through on how to use your inhaler. Okay.
Okay, no, this, this will help, because I know when I leave here, I'll probably forget half of it and I know when I tell my family, I'm going to have to start using an inhaler. They're going to be asking about how often are you using it?
And I'll be able to show them this and let them know exactly what I need to do.
Yeah, that's a great idea, to have this and this packet out and available for you or your family to grab, if you need to. That's great. Now before we leave, would you show me how to use your inhaler?
It looks like you got it. Now feel free if you think of any questions definitely call the clinic.
Sure, thank you.
The Teach-back Method also known as the Show Me Method validates the patient's clear understanding and also allows us to evaluate how well we gave the information.
Medicine questions you should ask
How to find reliable health information on the internet
There is a lot of useful health information available on the Web, but not all of it is reliable, accurate and unbiased. This is why it is important for you to be able to identify reliable, quality health information sites.
Before leaving your doctor's office, pharmacy or hospital with any prescription, be sure you understand how to take your medicines safely.
Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.