by Getting Real With Kathy Winn

I should preface this by saying I’m NOT a doctor. Or a nurse. Or even have my CPR certification up to date (although that one IS on the to-do list). I have no medical training whatsoever. But I DO work with doctors everyday (that’s my disclaimer – I do marketing for a medical group) and I’ve learned a great deal about how they work, the challenges they face in their workplace and I’m learning how to get the most out of my healthcare (and since I’m a mom – how to get the most out of my kid’s healthcare and my hubby’s healthcare as well). So here’s what I’ve learned and hopefully it will help you too.

Doctors (and doctors offices) are just like any other business – they want to provide you with good service so you choose to come back in the future and refer your friends and neighbors. The doctors I work with expect their patients get a certain level of customer service: calls should be returned, test results should be relayed to you, and the staff should be friendly. Of course, this may go out the window if you live in a heavily populated city where you are “lucky” to get an appointment with a doctor.

Don’t hold back your most important question until the end of the visit. Your doctor most likely has a specific way that he/she likes to run an appointment. But if you have a health concern, bring it up at the front of the appointment so you don’t forget – and you don’t get rushed out the door.

Bring a list (especially good for parents). With two kids, a husband, a full-time job and a fish, I forget which one has an itchy patch of skin and which one coughs in the middle of the night – especially when I walk into the exam room with them. So, like so many other things in life, I make a list. These are the things I want to make sure my pediatrician knows: the baby throws up when he eats carrots, gets congested when he gets out of the bath and I’m concerned his feet are too big (not actual examples, but you get the point). When the Pediatrician starts talking, I am likely to forget what concerns I came in with – a list helps me to remember.

Take advantage of the tools that are available to you. Our pediatrician’s office has a nurse that answers questions during business hours (yes, I know the number by heart and her first name). If I have a concern about my kids, I call. They also have a service that answers questions after hours. And now I can even send a secure email to my doctor or my kids’ pediatrician (remember that disclaimer above) – at no additional cost to me. So I do. How easy is it to send an email when I remember at 1:30am or during work hours, rather than call. They offer the service, so we use it.

And if you are new to a doctor’s office, ask questions. Make sure the doctor you are choosing is right for you and your family.