You gathered new information. You have questions about a many different issues. Now you want answers. Where do you find the answers to your questions? What resources do you have to get the answers about your health in particular?
Your doctor is you’re first thought, but you have only one visit a year for a physical so you want to take advantage of the time you have. This is where you take a list. The list should be in order of importance. This way if you do not get to all your questions the most important ones are answered. If you have specific questions about something make sure you have any supporting issues with you. With my patients I suggest a two week sleep diary and a sleep questionnaire such as an Epworth or FOSQ. They can then see why you have questions or concerns. This will save time to cover other issues. medical advocacy
If there is a long period of time until your next doctor’s visit you have two options. Do not hesitate to ask questions on the nurse’s line. You do not know if your question might be a reason to come in for a visit. If you do not feel comfortable with leaving a message or you need an immediate answer almost every hospital and many insurance plans have a nurse’s line. These lines are to answer questions about medical issues. They are manned by an RN or a specialist such as a dietitian or respiratory therapist to answer questions about their specific field. They can also give you referrals to specialists or a primary care doctor in your area.
There are several sites online who can give you access to medical professionals immediately to get advice. Liveperson.com is one site where the professionals will charge you by the minute or the issue. They supply you with biographies and you are able to see who is online. Justanswer.com allows you to ask questions and use certain topics. They have experts who will answer your questions but you do not get to choose the person. These two are just examples of many organizations online that can give you immediate advice.
The walk in clinic is great resource for something that needs a doctor’s visit but can not get to your primary care doctor. The physicians in these practices are family practice, emergency medicine, internal medicine or pediatric specialists. Many also have nurse practitioners who do the primary care. They deal with emergency short term problems and understand how to assess a problem quickly and treat it. This is also a great option if you do not have insurance because they are priced for a short term relationship. They do have services like work and school physicals and flu shots available. It is one of the new care paradigms that make sense for our current economy.
As our economy changes we have to be in control of our well being. The best way to do this is to be well informed and prepared when we see our doctors. Planning what questions to ask and having your information ready for the doctor will allow you to optimize your time and take care of all your issues.