6 Questions You Should Ask At Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

doctor speaking to patient in medical office

Have you ever come home from a doctor’s appointment and realized you forgot to ask something? Maybe you didn’t understand why your doctor ordered a lab test or prescribed a medication. In the U.S., the average doctor’s appointment lasts 20 minutes, so it’s important to come prepared. To make the most of your next visit, ask your doctor these six questions:

1. Is my medication list up to date?

A nurse or a medical assistant may ask you if your medications are up to date in your medical record, but don’t count on them to do so. Give them the information if they don’t ask. Come prepared with a list of all of your medications, OTC and prescribed, as well as any supplements that you take, such as vitamins. Be sure to include prescriptions from other doctors, so that contraindicated medications are not mixed.

2. Am I current on my immunizations?

Once we reach adulthood, it’s easy to forget about immunizations. Taking into consideration your age, your travel plans, and other factors, your doctor can recommend the right immunizations for you. 

3. Are you aware of my drug allergies?

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medication, it’s important that this information is in your medical record. If you have a medical emergency, you would not want to be given a medication that you are allergic to, or that might cause have other side effects.

4. What blood or lab tests should I have performed?

Factors like your age, gender, and family history are considered when your doctor orders lab tests. Ask your doctor what tests you need to have performed now. If you don’t understand the purpose of a test, ask your doctor to explain it to you. 

5. Why are you prescribing this medication?

Your doctor may decide to prescribe a new medication, or change the dosage of an existing medication. Make sure you understand why you are taking the medication, and how long you will be on it.

6. Can I see a copy of my medical records?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA law, guarantees that you have access to your medical records and those of your minor children. If you receive healthcare at different clinics, each clinic may have a different procedure for requesting your medical records. Your medical record contains a lot of information, and you need to know how to interpret it. Avidity Medical Design Academy offers a course entitled, “How to Read Your Own Medical Record (Learn What is in YOUR Medical Files!).” This course teaches important information that you should know in order to understand what is being entered into your medical record. You will also learn how to read your medical record, and how to report any errors or omissions that you find. Visit the Avidity Medical Design Academy homepage to learn more about this course.

doctor updating medical records in computer

Do You Know How To Read Your Medical Records? 4 Ways To Learn How

Most of us understand the importance of good healthcare, but few people actually know what is in their medical records. Understanding what is in your medical records is important because some of your information may be inaccurate or incomplete. Reading and understanding your medical records is not only important in terms of your health, but it is a skill you also need to have if you are pursuing a career in healthcare.

If you want to be able to read and interpret your own medical records, here are some tips on how to do this:

1. Learn the Fundamentals of Medical Records

Know the key pieces of information in your medical records such as your medical history, treatment history, and medication history. You should also learn how the information is entered, and how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) pertains to your medical records.

2. Learn How to Access Your Medical Records

Under HIPAA law, you have the right to access your medical records. You should be able to access your medical records whether they are stored in electronic or paper form. Your records include your doctors’ notes and the results of laboratory tests, x-rays, physical examinations, and much more information pertaining to your health as well as your family’s health.

3. Learn How to Correct Any Errors That You Find

Determine exactly what the error is, and whether it needs to be corrected. Not all errors need to be corrected since they will have no effect on your care. For example, you may not need to correct some typos. Once you have determined that an inaccuracy or omission must be corrected, you must take the necessary steps to get the error corrected.

4. Take a Course on How to Read Your Medical Records

The course entitled How to Read Your Own Medical Records (Learn What is in YOUR Medical Files!) from Avidity Medical Design Academy, can help you learn how to read your medical records, and correct any errors that you find in your medical records. In addition to the course content, you also get free bonuses, including additional resources that allow you to continue learning after you finish the course.

Remember that knowing how to read your medical records can help you understand your personal health and also help you succeed in your career, if you are thinking about becoming a healthcare professional. 

Why It’s Important To Protect Your Medical Identity

medical records on shelf

Identity theft is something we all need to be aware of. Often, identity theft occurs when someone steals our social security number or gains access to our credit card and bank account information. By the time you realize that someone has stolen your identity, you could be hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt and have no knowledge of when it began. What is even worse, you can end up being unable to take out a personal loan until it is cleared up, which can take years. You also run the risk of having your medical records sold on the black web, and then being used against you.

The Threat of Medical Record Fraud

Your medical record contains a lot of information. Most medical records contain not only your overall health information, but what medications you are on, your social security number, family member names, your address and phone number, and much more. Your health insurance provider will also be listed, along with your policy number. With all this information consolidated in one area; thieves will be able to learn even more about you. This information is harder to “cancel” than a credit card. You can’t simply change a number and keep thieves from accessing your medical information. It can take years for you to realize there is a problem.

What Can Be Done With Your Medical Records?

Your medical records contain your past medical history, a list of your medications, your lab and x-ray results, as well as much more information pertaining to your medical treatment. Your medical records contain everything about you. You may think that a thief cannot use your social security number without raising red flags, and that knowing your healthcare provider or insurance information is not going to do them much good either. This is how identity thieves hope you will continue to think about it. The truth is, a thief can do a lot of things with your medical records. Some people might use your medical information to get prescription pain medications to satisfy their opioid addiction. Then, when the investigation starts, it leads back to you. You may be denied pain medication because your medical records may show that you have an addiction.

Protect Yourself From Medical Identity Fraud

Medical record identity theft is becoming more common. Protecting your medical identity is just as important as protecting your credit card information.

Do you know how to read your medical records and make sense of them? If not, consider taking our course entitled, “ How to Protect Your Own Medical Identity (in 8 EASY Steps!) ” This course is the ideal solution to protect yourself and to keep from becoming the next victim of medical identity theft.

A female pharmacist sits with a senior female patient in the pharmacist consultation area and discusses her prescription and choice of medication. In the background a father and daughter stand at the dispensing counter and are served by a female pharmacy assistant .

Seeking a Healthcare Career? 7 Steps to Creating a Professional Demeanor That Keeps You on the Job

In the healthcare industry, maintaining a professional demeanor is critical. Not only do you want to be sure that you’ll be recognized for the time and effort you’ve put into your studies, you want to be sure that patients have a sense of confidence in you. You’re responsible for dealing with sensitive and private information, providing advice and treatment, and reassuring patients. With a calm, professional demeanor, you’ll be better able to control your patient interactions and put yourself in a better position to increase patient confidence. 

A female pharmacist sits with a senior female patient in the pharmacist consultation area and discusses her prescription and choice of medication. In the background a father and daughter stand at the dispensing counter and are served by a female pharmacy assistant .

Step One: Be Positive

No, you don’t need to go skipping down the halls, singing about all the wonderful opportunities that are open to you. Rather, you should maintain a positive attitude whenever you interact with your patients or coworkers. An attitude of doom and gloom or constant complaints–especially complaints relating to your job or coworkers–can quickly destroy patient confidence and convince them that they can’t trust you to adequately handle their case, which can, over time, erode your odds of promotion or even destroy your career. Instead, try to be upbeat. Remember why you chose to do what you do and why you enjoy it. When a coworker, from a nurse to a doctor, asks you to accomplish a task, do it cheerfully and calmly. This simple step inspires a great deal more confidence in your patients than seeing you come in complaining before you’ve even had a chance to get to know them. A dose of positive can go a long way toward improving your professional appearance. 

Step Two: Avoid Drama

“You know, we were just back in the nurse’s station talking about Deborah’s husband and…” “I don’t want to cause trouble, but you’ve dealt with Dr. Brown, and I haven’t been impressed with his diagnoses in the past.” Whether you’re talking directly to a patient or chatting at the nurse’s station, one of the fastest ways to decrease patient confidence and drop that professional demeanor is to get involved in drama. Your personal life doesn’t belong at work, especially when you’re dealing with patients. Instead, keep it professional while you’re on the clock! Avoid conflict with coworkers, and try not to get sucked into drama–even if a patient is the one to initiate the complaint. 

Step Three: Get Organized

There’s something reassuring about a medical professional who walks into a room and already knows exactly where everything is. Whether it’s a routine exam or an emergency, they don’t have to scramble for the proper materials; rather, they’re able to easily access exactly what they need. In many medical settings, it can be hard to keep up with simple organization tasks, but it’s a step that’s well worth it! Create a system that works for you, whether you’re pushing medical carts down the halls of a hospital or organizing an exam room in an office. Organize your personal supplies so that you know exactly where everything is. This can create a big difference in the way you appear to both patients and colleagues. 

Step Four: Listen

One of the most effective ways to create an aura of professionalism is to simply listen to those around you–both other workers and patients. As a doctor, for example, if a nurse tells you something, there’s a good chance that it’s important, whether they’ve observed odd patient behavior or noted a symptom you need to pay attention to. It also pays to listen to patients. Sometimes, they’re babbling just to talk or to calm their nerves, but other times, they may have something to say that genuinely relates to their care. Simply listening to them and giving genuine, considered responses can help increase their confidence in you and put you in a better position to provide high-quality care. 

Step Five: Be Honest

A little girl is at the doctors office for a check up. A nurse is sitting with them and talking to the mother.

It’s often tempting to blur the truth a little in a work environment, especially when you’re dealing with difficult patients. “Of course I remembered to tell the patient X.” “It wasn’t my turn to complete X task.” If you want to create a more professional attitude, however, be honest–both with your colleagues and with your patients. Own up to your mistakes and do what’s necessary to make it right. If things are way behind in the office, don’t tell patients that they’ll be seen in just a few minutes–give them an accurate assessment of what your schedule looks like, then offer them the ability to choose for themselves how they want to handle it. Honesty truly is the best policy–and it creates a more professional demeanor and appearance for your entire office. 

Step Six: Check the Small Stuff

As a medical professional, you know that there’s really no “small stuff” when it comes to dealing with patients. Inevitably, it’s the test you forgot to run or the gauge you forgot to check that turns out to be the most important to your patient. If you want to maintain a more professional demeanor, take the time to check the small stuff. Not only does this increase your quality of patient care, it shows your patients that you genuinely care about them and are willing to work hard to get to the bottom of whatever problem they’re having. 

Step Seven: Check Your Appearance

As nice as it would be if appearances didn’t matter, your appearance can go a long way toward establishing your professionalism in the eyes of your patients and your colleagues. Do a quick appearance check each day to make sure that you look as professional as possible. Check your scrubs to be sure that they’re clean and unstained. If they’re starting to look too worn, it may be time for a replacement. Keep your hair up and away from your face. For women, makeup should be professional and clean, rather than obvious or overdone. Take a quick look in the mirror: do you look like a medical professional that you’d want to treat you? If not, clean up your appearance for the benefit of everyone around you.

Taking the leap to become more professional can go a long way toward advancing your medical career and improving the confidence that patients have in you. With these seven steps, you can transform your demeanor so that patients will be able to more easily see just how capable you are. Want more information? Check out our course entitled, “How to Learn Professionalism in Healthcare (with Real-World Examples!),” which offers strategies to increase your professionalism and give you a winning attitude for success!

How Healthcare is Changing to Meet the Needs of Patients

group of doctors having meeting in board room

Healthcare management is on the move and the changes are both exciting and important. Patients are no longer dependents. They are consumers who require better service and better value, and healthcare today is evolving to meet these demands now and in the future.

Access to Care

The long held belief that a patient should follow the lead and direction of their healthcare provider has gone by the wayside, and the trend toward Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) is being encouraged and established as the new best practice. In the PCMH, the patient is the boss, and clinics and offices have extended their services to meet as many patient needs as possible under one umbrella, offering patients less wait time, and a greater opportunity to direct their own healthcare.

Mega-Mergers

Hospitals, outside laboratories, and doctor’s offices are merging into larger conglomerate healthcare companies. While it is true that there are fewer companies to choose from because of the mergers, these mega companies are creating all-in-one-visit healthcare opportunities. They offer more services and a more affordable cost than small private organizations. By reducing advertising and supply costs, as well as building expenses, these savings get passed on to customers.

Care Advocacy

Nurse care management and case management has become the norm for patients with chronic and acute illnesses. Nurses are assigned to patients who may benefit from having their own healthcare advocate and team available to them. These care managers help patients get the medical equipment they need, understand their insurance benefits, manage their medications, keep track of their medical appointments, and gain access to other outside services. They also offer healthcare education to reduce or prevent emergency room and hospital visits.

Many insurance and private sector healthcare companies offer nurse triage call centers with 24/7 access to a registered nurse to discuss urgent health-related questions and symptoms. These call centers help customers manage their health during times of illness, make decisions about doctors office visits, and help patients decide when they need to make a trip to the emergency room.

The healthcare trends for 2019 reflect the understanding that patients are educated consumers. Not only are patients able to make informed decisions about the care and services they receive, they are demanding the choice.

For more informative articles, visit the Avidity Medical Design blog.