How to get the most from your primary care checkup

primary care checkup Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When it comes to your healthcare, everything begins with your primary care provider. They will provide your regular checkups. They'll also connect you with any specialty medical care you may need.

A strong relationship between you and your primary care provider is key to good health. So it's important to build trust and comfort with them.

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If it's time to schedule a checkup, these tips will help you get the most from your appointment.

Before your checkup

  • Make sure your ID card is accurate

    Your ID will list important info about your specific health plan. That includes your network, identification number, and pharmacy co-pays. If you don't have your ID card or need a replacement, you can request a new one.

  • Review your medical history

    Your doctor should know about your current medications or previous treatment plans. If you're visiting your doctor for the first time, it may help to fill out the new patient form ahead of time.

  • Bring phone numbers and addresses of prior doctors

    Any time you visit a new doctor, having quick access to your prior care providers can come in handy. It can take time to get your records from different health systems. Providing this information up front can make things easier.

  • Bring a friend or family member with you
  • An extra pair of ears helps, especially if you're facing a tough health issue. It can be hard to absorb everything you hear during your appointment. A loved one can help you remember important things you wanted to talk about and take notes. Then you're free to focus on your questions.

  • Bring a list of your prescriptions and dosages

    If you manage more than one prescription, bring a list. Make sure to include all the drugs and dosages you're currently taking. This will remove any guesswork from your visit. And your doctor won't need to check with your previous providers. You can also bring old prescription containers to your appointment. Don't forget to bring any over-the-counter drugs or supplements, too.

  • Write down your questions

    It's easy to forget questions you may have for your doctor. Writing them down frees you up to focus on your doctor's recommendations. Leave time for any questions that pop up during the checkup. It'll save you from needing to follow up later.

At your checkup

  • Arrive early

    Recommended arrival times vary. When you make an appointment, ask the office staff how early to arrive. Extra paperwork or other unforeseen administrative issues may arise. Early arrival can ensure you don't miss any time with your doctor.

  • Talk to your primary care provider about the rest of your care team

    If you have a health condition, your primary care provider is the key to accessing specialized care. They can refer you to an in-network specialist. They'll also coordinate your care team to provide you with the best experience.

  • Ask about any screenings or preventive services

    It's important to ask your primary care provider about recommended preventive services or screenings. Just keep this in mind: You may need to pay for part of the cost. Want to avoid surprise healthcare costs? Use this guide to help.

Make sure that everyone on your health plan gets off to a good start. If you have any questions, feel free to call the number on the back of your ID card. Or contact us on Twitter @LifeWiseWA or Facebook at facebook.com/lifewisewa.