Your Tips on How to Get Off to the Best Start with a New Specialist

I'm looking for your best tips.
Starting a relationship with a new specialist can be daunting. You want to get off to a good start and ensure that you establish mutual respect and are able to develop trust. You want to know you're in good hands. What is their expertise and experience? What research are they doing? Will they listen and consider your input?

How do you get off to the best start with a new provider? What suggestions would you tell a friend who is going to see a new doctor?

+++UPDATE+++
Your tips in action: Tips shared in the discussion below made this video. It's great advice: For patients by patients.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Visiting Mayo Clinic group.

@cacoon6

Hello, I know this is an older post but I would love some feedback. I have been disappointed as of late with my lack of healthcare. I was recently dx with some brain issues which are scary enough. I am a Mom of 4 and worked in the medical field all my life (not an RN). But, have been pretty healthy minus a few surgeries in the past. I started to do my research from evidence based websites with my condition and the last neuro I saw seemed to use that against me by saying "You are educated" I never try to act smarter than the MD because I am not. I just want to get better and feel better. Any advice how to connect with my Mayo appointment ahead of time? It isn't until August? Should I send a fax ahead of time saying who I am? I want to get better and get treated…all I have been given locally and not so locally is, here is pain meds and your headache isn't the cause of your brain issues. I want them to know me and see me and I am spending $ and scared I will leave another appointment disappointed and dismissed…

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Hi @cacoon6 – Welcome to Connect. It sounds as if you have got a really scary situation. You are smart to work on getting prepared so you can get the most out of your visit. I can tell you from personal experience that Mayo has a great "patient portal" that allows patients to correspond with their doctors, ask questions, etc. If I were you, I would not FAX. If you have information you want to share, I would use the portal to give the doctor an overview of the information and ask if it would be helpful to have it in advance. They are very attentive to the portal. I do not think you will leave your Mayo appointment feeling dismissed because later, if you think of something you forgot to ask, or end up having a question that arises later, you can just use the portal to ask. I always feel better if I prepare for my appointment by making a list of what I want to ask. Someone earlier suggested ending the list with this question: "Is there anything else you can think of that I need to know and I haven't asked?" Scroll through this thread and you'll find great ideas for questions. Are you preparing a list now?

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Thank you for your reply! I thought I had a list…when I would start to ask my question within a minute I was told "No, headache is not a symtom of meniangiomas or adenomas or Rathkes Cleft Cysts" then one doctor at Northwestern when I asked about vision when his nurse was telling me I would be referred to a specialist 10 mins before he came in. He came back in the room and said you need to see an optometrist, held his hands over my eyes did a 30 second vision test and laughed after holding up no fingers saying "That was a trick question" He then came back in the room after walking out and said make sure you fill out my patient survey! So maybe I am asking the wrong question? I tried to sign up for the portal but it said I could not be verified…so I am not sure what I did wrong? Thanks, I will read through and see what I can find.

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@cacoon6

Hello, I know this is an older post but I would love some feedback. I have been disappointed as of late with my lack of healthcare. I was recently dx with some brain issues which are scary enough. I am a Mom of 4 and worked in the medical field all my life (not an RN). But, have been pretty healthy minus a few surgeries in the past. I started to do my research from evidence based websites with my condition and the last neuro I saw seemed to use that against me by saying "You are educated" I never try to act smarter than the MD because I am not. I just want to get better and feel better. Any advice how to connect with my Mayo appointment ahead of time? It isn't until August? Should I send a fax ahead of time saying who I am? I want to get better and get treated…all I have been given locally and not so locally is, here is pain meds and your headache isn't the cause of your brain issues. I want them to know me and see me and I am spending $ and scared I will leave another appointment disappointed and dismissed…

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If you have not read, see my list of items to prepare for appointment.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/your-tips-on-how-to-get-off-to-the-best-start-with-a-new-specialist/?pg=1#comment-240765
This web page has a phone number for help with portal:
https://profile.mayoclinic.org/help?applicationId=c77283b6-1f64-4808-a8af-7bbc3c45595b
Even after you get registered for Portal, I think you can only send messages to dr you have already seen.

Prior to appointments at Mayo, I usually get a form to fill out as preparation for appt.

If you have medical records you want to send prior to appt., contact the person who scheduled your appt and ask about sending medical records or introduction letter. If unsure who to call, try calling central appt desk at 507-538-3270 and they can transfer to right appointment desk. If you have received a hard copy confirmation of appointment, there might be phone number on that.

Good luck
Laurie

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Oh my goodness! That is crazy that a so called professional would say that to you! It makes me so angry and sad for others that also have these types of experience.
I also have thought it might be pharma as all the doctors I have seen have given me more than 2 meds each, (none have worked) so I don't take them. I have children in the house and I don't need things lying around so I have gotten rid of all of them. I don't take anything for any other problems (knock wood) I was taking a supplement and apple cider vinegar tabs, but stopped all because I wasn't sure what was contributing to the headache so just on my maintainance med to avoid a seizure.
I am a vegetarian and we eat as much organic as we can, so I try to be healthy and live a natural lifestyle. I am hoping the Mayo Clinic can see me and not dismiss my concerns. I am willing to have treatment over pills thrown my way and dismissed that headaches are not caused by tumors, Thanks for the intersting read…and I am sorry that you were also treated the way you were.

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@roch

If you have not read, see my list of items to prepare for appointment.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/your-tips-on-how-to-get-off-to-the-best-start-with-a-new-specialist/?pg=1#comment-240765
This web page has a phone number for help with portal:
https://profile.mayoclinic.org/help?applicationId=c77283b6-1f64-4808-a8af-7bbc3c45595b
Even after you get registered for Portal, I think you can only send messages to dr you have already seen.

Prior to appointments at Mayo, I usually get a form to fill out as preparation for appt.

If you have medical records you want to send prior to appt., contact the person who scheduled your appt and ask about sending medical records or introduction letter. If unsure who to call, try calling central appt desk at 507-538-3270 and they can transfer to right appointment desk. If you have received a hard copy confirmation of appointment, there might be phone number on that.

Good luck
Laurie

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@roch Laurie – thank you so much for this helpful advice. You have nailed it. I can't add a thing. Great comment!!

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@cacoon6

Hello, I know this is an older post but I would love some feedback. I have been disappointed as of late with my lack of healthcare. I was recently dx with some brain issues which are scary enough. I am a Mom of 4 and worked in the medical field all my life (not an RN). But, have been pretty healthy minus a few surgeries in the past. I started to do my research from evidence based websites with my condition and the last neuro I saw seemed to use that against me by saying "You are educated" I never try to act smarter than the MD because I am not. I just want to get better and feel better. Any advice how to connect with my Mayo appointment ahead of time? It isn't until August? Should I send a fax ahead of time saying who I am? I want to get better and get treated…all I have been given locally and not so locally is, here is pain meds and your headache isn't the cause of your brain issues. I want them to know me and see me and I am spending $ and scared I will leave another appointment disappointed and dismissed…

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@cacoon6
It must be very frustrating for you and I can appreciate your sense of urgency. Have you given Mayo permission to gather all your medical records? Have you asked to be put on a waiting list for an earlier appointment? The one thing which you have control over is gathering up all the test results you can put your hands on, and writing up a chronological list of who you've seen and for what; what they prescribed; how you reacted to it; if it helped… that kind of thing. I'm guessing that, it would be most appreciated by whomever your appointment is with, as it will give him/her a bigger picture and in writing without having to spend valuable time questioning you, and you relying on your memory. It's a thought….

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@roch

Great idea to prepare information on how to prepare. I hope you ask some appointment coordinators, nurses and doctors for their input also.

I try to be as prepared for any questions the doctor might ask and have a list of questions for the doctor. The more prepared I am, the more efficient the appointment will be. I would rather have too much information with me then not enough.

Think back to other doctors' appointments, what questions did the nurse or doctor ask. Be prepared to answer those questions again.

I have been a patient of Mayo my entire life, and all my information is online, I still bring the following list to my appointment just in case. Even though information is online, it does take time for a doctor to find. If he wants to look up details, it is nice to have dates of previous tests, etc…

My suggestions:

1. Make sure your appointment is with right specialist. At Mayo the appointment coordinators should be able to help. Just because a friend saw a certain doctor, he/she might not be correct specialist for your condition.
2. Have your referring doctor send all medical records (preferable electronically). In addition, bring a copy with you just in case something gets misplaced. Again, preferable on a disk.
3. In addition, I always have the following with documents with me:
○ List of all medications I take, who prescribed, why I take that medication, how long I have taken that medication.
○ If there are other medications I have taken in recently that I no longer take, it is nice to have that information also. Maybe your previous doctor recommended something and it did not work. You want your new doctor to know this information.
○ Your list should include all prescribed and over the counter medication.
○ You might want to bring all the bottles with you so there is no question about dosages.
○ List of all allergies
○ List of all surgeries, date and location.
○ List of all medical conditions, when diagnosed and are you still being treated for this condition. A specialist is not there to treat all your problems, but something may be related to your current problem.
4. Write down your understanding of current problem and list of symptoms. Be specific.
a. When did symptoms start
b. How are you treating the symptoms
c. Does anything make them worse or better.
d. What tests have been done for current problem, date, location, results
5. Write down your questions related to current problem in order of importance. At end of appointment, look through your list and see if they have been answered.
6. Take notes, the doctor's summary will be available online after your appointment. If he tells you something and you do not know how to spell it, ask him to write it down.

If your appointment is at Mayo, and you use the internet register for the Mayo Portal. It is great reference to double check appointment information, fill out forms, check results and see doctor notes. Even if you fill out form online, also bring information to appointment. And if use a smart phone, download app.

Hope this helps.
Laurie

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Excellent! May I also add that u should ask about the implications of treatment & qualiy of life!

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@elizm

@cacoon6
It must be very frustrating for you and I can appreciate your sense of urgency. Have you given Mayo permission to gather all your medical records? Have you asked to be put on a waiting list for an earlier appointment? The one thing which you have control over is gathering up all the test results you can put your hands on, and writing up a chronological list of who you've seen and for what; what they prescribed; how you reacted to it; if it helped… that kind of thing. I'm guessing that, it would be most appreciated by whomever your appointment is with, as it will give him/her a bigger picture and in writing without having to spend valuable time questioning you, and you relying on your memory. It's a thought….

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@elizm great suggestions. I will definitely keep these reminders.
JK

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@cacoon6

Hello, I know this is an older post but I would love some feedback. I have been disappointed as of late with my lack of healthcare. I was recently dx with some brain issues which are scary enough. I am a Mom of 4 and worked in the medical field all my life (not an RN). But, have been pretty healthy minus a few surgeries in the past. I started to do my research from evidence based websites with my condition and the last neuro I saw seemed to use that against me by saying "You are educated" I never try to act smarter than the MD because I am not. I just want to get better and feel better. Any advice how to connect with my Mayo appointment ahead of time? It isn't until August? Should I send a fax ahead of time saying who I am? I want to get better and get treated…all I have been given locally and not so locally is, here is pain meds and your headache isn't the cause of your brain issues. I want them to know me and see me and I am spending $ and scared I will leave another appointment disappointed and dismissed…

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Good luck

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My PCP has advised for me to begin taking a statin. My cholesterol is 210 ( I am 76 yrs old and have been working out my entire adult life). I had a brain tumor removed from my optic nerve 12/18 and then a subdural bilateral bleed requiring a craniotomy and burr hole on 2/22/19. On 3/13/19 had to have another emergency surgery for a bleed requiring another craniotomy and burr hole. This bleed also caused a midline shift. All of the above put me at a higher risk for a stroke therefor the recommendation of a statin. I am not convinced that this is necessary and am very interested in your information. If you have any other information that may help me decide I would be very interested.

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Hi! I feel your neurologist’s attitude and how you were treated totally unacceptable!! I am SO glad you have an appointment at the Mayo and SO glad you have joined Mayo Connect!!! I strongly believe that if anyone will help you it will be a doctor there. I have RARELY met anyone who has not had a good experience and I have talked to many over the years with all kinds of issues. I would certainly suggest that you call the neurology department at the Mayo now about your future appointment If you are being seen in Rochester MN the number is (507) 284-1005. They suggest that you call everyday or so to see if there is a cancellation. When I was diagnosed last year with PD(have you had a diagnosis yet to determine your condition?) my appointment was a month out. I called daily for a few days and got in a week later. I LOVE my neurologist!!!! He treats me with respect and concern and never makes me feel like I am out of line talking about all of the things I have found out about PD by searching the web. I was certainly shocked and frightened when I was diagnosed, but I am now on Levedopa Carbidopa. My symptoms are pretty much under control and I feel quite good. There is certainly help out there for you. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

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@cacoon6

Hello, I know this is an older post but I would love some feedback. I have been disappointed as of late with my lack of healthcare. I was recently dx with some brain issues which are scary enough. I am a Mom of 4 and worked in the medical field all my life (not an RN). But, have been pretty healthy minus a few surgeries in the past. I started to do my research from evidence based websites with my condition and the last neuro I saw seemed to use that against me by saying "You are educated" I never try to act smarter than the MD because I am not. I just want to get better and feel better. Any advice how to connect with my Mayo appointment ahead of time? It isn't until August? Should I send a fax ahead of time saying who I am? I want to get better and get treated…all I have been given locally and not so locally is, here is pain meds and your headache isn't the cause of your brain issues. I want them to know me and see me and I am spending $ and scared I will leave another appointment disappointed and dismissed…

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I recently changed my lung treatment from a pulmonologist I had been seeing at Northwestern to one at University of Chicago. This is what I learned about medical records and first appointments:

1. Doctors can access your test results on line through an Epic program. If you have a number of tests wrt the relevant condition, I recommend taking a list of the test dates to save the doctor time spent scrolling through multiple test results.

2. Doctor's notes are not available online so you need to obtain them. Frankly if I had seen my former pulmonologist"s notes re my many appointments with her, I would have left her practice long ago. She wrote that most of every appointment was spent on counseling. That"s how she saw my questions re why she was ordering frequent ct scans although the radiologist reported there may be an infection but no sputum tests and whether a newer drug was better for me than the ones I was taking. Sigh.

I used to take my questions on paper but now I have a notes app on my phone. I sometimes stop in the waiting room on the way out and write the answers before I forget what s/he said.

3. While ct scan reports are available online the actual ct scan needs to be put on a disc. Specialists like to go over the actual scan and will put your disc contents into your records for future reference.

4. I hope this doesn't sound crass but doctors are only paid for the time with you. Any fax or letter will most likely be weeded out by his nurse or assistant. The doctor knows you are there because you want help with your medical condition – a condition he or she is very interested in hence the years of specialty training.

That"s all I can think of right now. Hope it helps and good luck on your appointment.

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