If you are someone who avoids going to the doctor simply because you are scared to know about problems with your health, remember, you aren’t alone. Most of us have to show up for doctor appointments at some point, whether we like it or not. And it isn’t something that most of us look forward to.
Whether it’s the drive to reach the destination or waiting endlessly for your name to be called up, it’s a hassle. If you stay in a remote area or don’t speak the native language, your ordeals can be even greater. Why do doctor visits always have to be such an ordeal?
The truth is you need to understand that doctors are there to help you get better. It’s a two way process; if you communicate with them and trust them, the experience can be better.
Here’s how you can make your GP appointment count:
- To begin with, never stop yourself from asking questions. That’s why you have gone to a doctor and want to know everything about your condition, treatment or tests.
- Address one problem at a time. Let your doctor know if you have multiple health issues but allow your doctor to plan and address your concerns thoroughly during your appointment time. If your issues are simple, your doctor would usually be happy to address more than one but let your doctor manage the appointment effectively.
- Ask whether the treatment or procedure is necessary or not and if there can be side effects. You can then discuss whether these are acceptable to you for the benefits of the treatment.
- Enquire about alternative treatment methods that don’t involve surgeries and medications. For instance, some conditions can be treated with simple lifestyle changes, like exercising regularly and eating healthier food.
- Enquire about the costs and look for cost-effective alternatives. Many GPs will do bulk billing and charge you only an amount that your insurer will provide. But, some can charge more than this; this is a “gap fee”, also called out-of-pocket expenses.
- Find out what the risks are in case you don’t opt for the suggested treatment.
Bear these things in mind whether you are visiting a specialist, GP, or any Allied Health professional. Know the costs before confirming the appointment. In case of language concerns, take a trusted interpreter with you so that you can understand all the information provided.