When you have a doctor’s appointment, you’ve got just a short window to make sure that your doctor has all the information they need to correctly assess your condition and your needs.
Seeing dozens of patients every day, GPs have a lot of experience in reading how you talk, what you say and other non-verbal cues to make sure they can correctly diagnose you. Even with an online doctors appointment, there are many things that a doctor can draw on in their assessment, in lieu of a physical examination, which is why so many conditions can be successfully treated through telehealth.
When you are well prepared, you can actively help your doctor to give you the best possible care, and to ensure that you are able to cover off what you need to in your 10-15 minute appointment slot.
If you’re concerned about making sure your doctor appointments run smoothly, here are some simple tips on how to do it.
Bring your health records
Particularly with online care, and for ongoing conditions, it is very helpful for your doctor to have your health history and records of previous care on file. This way they have all the information they need to hand without you having to repeat it all to them during the appointment. When you are enrolled with any clinic in our network (that includes all Local Doctors clinics and all White Cross clinics as well as Bettr online care) this means we have your records on file no matter which clinic you visit and including online appointments too.
Sometimes it can feel embarrassing or just difficult to talk about our health issues. But never fear, your healthcare team has seen it all before, and nothing will phase them. This is what nurses and doctors do every day, they are not here to judge you, and they want nothing more than to help you get well. But, they can only do this when they have all the accurate information to hand and can build a clear picture of your situation and how best to treat you to get you back to wellness. At worst, holding information back could put your health at risk or lead to misdiagnosis so it’s best to lay it all out in the open.
Especially if you aren’t feeling very well, remembering all your symptoms and the timeframes of onset can be tougher than you think. Take five minutes before you go to your appointment to write down as much detail as you can, what you have been feeling, when it started, how it has progressed, and you’ll be able to share this with your doctor clearly and quickly once your appointment begins. It’s also a good idea to make a note of all medications you are currently taking to share with your doctor if they ask.
Avoid a laundry list
Doctors appointments cost you valuable time and money, so sometimes it’s tempting to ‘save up’ little issues until you urgently need to go to the doctor. With most doctor appointments in New Zealand lasting only up to 15 minutes, this can mean things become rushed and health concerns cannot be properly covered if a patient is trying to address too many issues at one time. Putting off a ‘small’ concern to wait for later can also put your long-term health at risk, so addressing each thing as it arises is the smartest approach to self-care. If you do have multiple concerns to address, make sure you tell the receptionist about these at the time of booking so they can make sure you are allotted enough time.
Fortunately, when you’re enrolled with Bettr, an online appointment costs just $10 so you can see a doctor as often as you need. Our enrolled patients also have access to our physical clinic network where for many people appointments cost as little as $20 or less with a community services card.
Bring support if you need it
If you are feeling nervous about your appointment or simply not up to talking much if you’re very unwell, consider bringing a support person along with you, be it a friend or family member. You can have a support person with you when you see a doctor online too.
Arrive on time
Often there are many people waiting to see a doctor, and appointments are booked back-to-back to make sure everyone gets seen. So being on time for your appointment is very important. This ensures you receive your full allotted time without it being cut short, and (in physical clinics) also means that no-one is bumped in front of you to fill a gap while waiting for you to arrive. With Bettr online appointments this is easy, as you’ll receive a reminder via text just before your appointment starts, and all you need to do then is just click the link to join.
If you don’t understand something that has been discussed, be confident to speak up and ask for clarification. When you leave, you should feel prepared and clear on what you need to do next, whether that’s getting a prescription, getting another appointment sorted for later or with a specialist, or whatever the doctor has recommended. Again, it is a good idea to take some notes at this point, so take a pen to your appointment with you to ensure you can remember what was discussed later on.
All prepared? You can book an appointment now to see one our online doctors.