Preparing for a Health Care Visit

These trusted resources are here to help you prepare for your health care visit and to talk with your doctor when you’re in the exam room, so you can work together to make health care decisions.

Shared Decision Making Patient Page

Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, Partnerships for Quality Care, 2013.

Shared decision-making (SDM) is a process in which healthcare providers and patients communicate together about the options for care and treatment: patients share their personal values and opinions about the medical condition and treatment choices, and together with their provider reach a decision.  Often decision aids such as videos or written materials are used.  SDM is particularly important when it comes to “preference-sensitive care,” where there is more than one clinically appropriate treatment option for the condition, each with benefits and drawbacks.   This robust site has patient guides, videos and other materials to help you talk with your doctor now and when you’re preparing for a procedure.

Be Your Own Best Medicine

Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety

This website provides straightforward advice, a printable checklist, and a short video about how patients and families can prepare for health care visits.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2013.

With questions for you to ask your doctor, this site helps you learn ways to communicate about your health care needs.

Checklist for Getting the Right Diagnosis

National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), 2013.

This page is a checklist you can use to help make sure you get an accurate diagnosis.

Preparing for Healthcare Encounters

The Empowered Patient Coalition, 2013.

This printable PDF from the Empowered Patient Coalition website allows you to fill in information your provider should be informed of such as medication, symptoms and any questions you have.

The Community Checkup

Washington Health Alliance, 2013. Web.

The Community Checkup compares and reports on health care throughout Washington by allowing you to compare scores among medical groups, clinics and hospitals.  It also includes a section on “What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office” and a “Resources” section.

Patients: Be Safe, Be Healthy

Joint Commission, 2013. Web.

This user-friendly, searchable, site has tips on taking an active role in your health care and how to be a safer patient. It also offers the newsletter, “The Safer Patient,” and has tips on how to navigate the healthcare system, how to be an active member of the healthcare team, and how to advocate for one’s self and others to make sure you receive safe, quality care.

Speak Up. Tips for Your Doctor Visit.

Joint Commission, 2013.

This useful pamphlet tells you how to prepare for a doctor’s visit, how family members or friends can help, what to do if you do not understand the doctor, what to do if you are embarrassed to speak about healthcare issues, what to ask about new medications, etc.

Taking Charge of Your Health Care

Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, 2009

This eight-page document is a tool to record personal information, hospital team contact information, medical condition related data, doctor/nurse appointment schedules, pharmacy contact information and questions for the doctor. It also provides directions on seeking help and paying bills.

View these short video examples of preparing for health care visits.

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