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.

@colleenyoung ….I would if l were starting with a new doctor….be on time or early to appt…bring my insurance cards….bring copies of relevant tests and CD's and current meds even if l had requested they would be sent ahead….have a list of questions. I would also give the front desk a list of name of doctor (s) and addresses l want their report to be sent to. tdrell

REPLY

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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The very first thing I would tell a friend is to be completely honest with your doctor. There should be absolutely nothing to hide related to your health. After all, their intention is to help patients. It doesn't always work out that way, but without honesty by both patient and doctor, the exercise is a waste of time and money.

The other advice given by others is right on the money. Arrive early, be prepared with prior medical record and any questions. To me, it's all respect for the doctor's time. We only get a limited amount of their time/attention. Using that time as efficiently as possible is in the patient's best interest.

REPLY
@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

Jump to this post

Laurie@roch @colleenyoung Excellent, comprehensive response, Laurie. The only thing which I would add is, if your are not a Mayo patient, and if your doctors are from different networks, always keep a copy of every test and a chronological (ongoing) list of doctor visits, prescriptions each prescribed and for what, test result anomalies, vaccinations, surgeries, etc. — all medical events — for your reference when preparing to see any physician. Along with the items you mentioned, I write and read a brief history of what I believe led to my current status on any condition which brings me into a doctor's office. It helps the doctor see a bigger picture, and keeps him/her from having to reinvent the wheel, putting you through a raft of unnecessary tests. Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, stop taking all supplements a few days before you have any blood or urine tests (as various supplements can alter the assay of particular components being tested)… and, no, doctors rarely think to mention that to you.

Example of my last point: I was prescribed Biotin to regrow my hair and nails, following chemo. A few months later, a neurologist ordered a thyroid test which indicated hyperthyroidism. I went to see my GP who responded by ordering an ultrasound and referring me to an endocrinologist. As I found it hard to believe that I was hyperthyroid, I did some research on the web and found that, before 2016, endocrinologists mistakenly have been treating patients on Biotin for hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease for decades, not realizing that Biotin messes with the test results. I retested without Biotin in my system for a week and had normal thyroid test results, thank goodness. Lesson learned.

REPLY
@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

Jump to this post

Have another item to add under #3 Medications. Be ready to answer any questions about alcohol usage, cannabis, and use of other street drugs. The doctor needs to know this because it can interfere with your other medications and tests the doctor may order.

REPLY
@elizm

Laurie@roch @colleenyoung Excellent, comprehensive response, Laurie. The only thing which I would add is, if your are not a Mayo patient, and if your doctors are from different networks, always keep a copy of every test and a chronological (ongoing) list of doctor visits, prescriptions each prescribed and for what, test result anomalies, vaccinations, surgeries, etc. — all medical events — for your reference when preparing to see any physician. Along with the items you mentioned, I write and read a brief history of what I believe led to my current status on any condition which brings me into a doctor's office. It helps the doctor see a bigger picture, and keeps him/her from having to reinvent the wheel, putting you through a raft of unnecessary tests. Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, stop taking all supplements a few days before you have any blood or urine tests (as various supplements can alter the assay of particular components being tested)… and, no, doctors rarely think to mention that to you.

Example of my last point: I was prescribed Biotin to regrow my hair and nails, following chemo. A few months later, a neurologist ordered a thyroid test which indicated hyperthyroidism. I went to see my GP who responded by ordering an ultrasound and referring me to an endocrinologist. As I found it hard to believe that I was hyperthyroid, I did some research on the web and found that, before 2016, endocrinologists mistakenly have been treating patients on Biotin for hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease for decades, not realizing that Biotin messes with the test results. I retested without Biotin in my system for a week and had normal thyroid test results, thank goodness. Lesson learned.

Jump to this post

Wow!! I’ve never been asked to stop supplements before blood tests. Thanks for info!

REPLY
@elizm

Laurie@roch @colleenyoung Excellent, comprehensive response, Laurie. The only thing which I would add is, if your are not a Mayo patient, and if your doctors are from different networks, always keep a copy of every test and a chronological (ongoing) list of doctor visits, prescriptions each prescribed and for what, test result anomalies, vaccinations, surgeries, etc. — all medical events — for your reference when preparing to see any physician. Along with the items you mentioned, I write and read a brief history of what I believe led to my current status on any condition which brings me into a doctor's office. It helps the doctor see a bigger picture, and keeps him/her from having to reinvent the wheel, putting you through a raft of unnecessary tests. Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, stop taking all supplements a few days before you have any blood or urine tests (as various supplements can alter the assay of particular components being tested)… and, no, doctors rarely think to mention that to you.

Example of my last point: I was prescribed Biotin to regrow my hair and nails, following chemo. A few months later, a neurologist ordered a thyroid test which indicated hyperthyroidism. I went to see my GP who responded by ordering an ultrasound and referring me to an endocrinologist. As I found it hard to believe that I was hyperthyroid, I did some research on the web and found that, before 2016, endocrinologists mistakenly have been treating patients on Biotin for hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease for decades, not realizing that Biotin messes with the test results. I retested without Biotin in my system for a week and had normal thyroid test results, thank goodness. Lesson learned.

Jump to this post

@elizm my endo also told me to stop biotin a few days before the TSH test. It does not effect your thyroid, only the test.
JK

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These are all great. I include caffeine use and vitamins. Maybe since the folks I see are because of a TBI, I bring a plate of gingered cinnamon crinkles – always puts the staff in a positive mood.

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These are all great tips in how to prepare for a visit. I'd like to dig a bit deeper. How do you develop rapport with a new doctor?

Coincidentally, I came across this article today.
Getting Your Doctor to Really See You https://thedoctorweighsin.com/getting-your-doctor-to-really-see-you/

It provides strategies about how you can, as a patient, get your doctor to engage with you as a person. It is divided into 3 parts:
– Individual flair can ignite conversation
– Appeal to the physician as both scientist and healer
– Let technology pave the path

How do you present yourself to your doctor to establish the kind of relationship you want?

REPLY
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