One Simple Step For Better Health: Talk to Your Doctor

One Simple Step For Better Health: Talk to Your Doctor

If you could do just one thing to improve your health, you’d be interested, right? Especially if it didn’t cost you extra time or money.

So what is it? Talking with your doctor. There are health benefits to having a primary doctor and maintaining that relationship. Having a doctor who knows you and your personal history means someone is just a phone call away in times of need.

If you don’t have a main doctor, find one you like. And start building your relationship with an annual health checkup.

Start with the Basics

Yearly health checkups are like regularly checking in with a friend or family member. You do it so you feel comfortable with your doctor and they know what's going on in your life. Regular visits help keep that rapport with your doctor.

Routine exams help your doctor know what’s going on in your life that might affect your health. They allow you and your doctor to focus on preventing or managing health problems. And your doctor can help you find ways to maintain the parts of your overall physical and mental health that are in good shape.

Annual checkups include going over the basics and what may have changed with your health since your last visit. Your checkup may include:

  • Talking about diet, exercise, sleep and other ways to maintain or improve your health.
  • Checking your vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, heart and lungs.
  • Reviewing medicines and test results.

In addition to prevention, routine health exams and screenings can help find serious problems early. Then your chance for treatment or cure is better.

This visit is the time to cover all aspects of your health, both your body and your mind. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any mental health concerns you may have.

Other Steps to Take

You can lay the groundwork for a good patient-doctor relationship with some basic steps. That allows you to actively partner with your doctor to make treatment decisions that are most likely to work for you.

Scripps Health suggests these eight steps to build a strong relationship with your doctor:

  1. Prepare in advance. Jot down your questions and make sure you note what medicines, supplements and vitamins you’re taking so you can tell your doctor.
  2. Prioritize. Make sure you ask about your main concern first, in case time runs out.
  3. Consider backup. Don’t count on recalling everything you’re told. Plan to write down the details. Or think about having a friend or relative come with you to take notes.
  4. Tell the truth. Your doctor needs to know the full details of your life as it relates to your health concerns.
  5. Ask questions. You need to understand what your doctor has told you and what you need to do next. It’s often not as easy as it sounds. Don’t be shy about asking questions to make sure you understand.
  6. Keep in touch. Between visits, follow up with questions and give your doctor feedback on how you’re doing. Many providers have an email address or an online patient portal you can use to communicate between visits.
  7. Consider virtual care. Check to see if your regular doctor offers telehealth visits.
  8. Stick with the plan. Follow your doctor’s advice on health measures, like your weight. And take the medicines your doctor prescribes as directed. Be sure to talk to your doctor first before stopping any medicines.

Staying in touch with your doctor means you’ll more likely stay on top of your health. 

Sources: Don’t Be Shy: 4 Tips for Talking to Your Doctor, leaving site icon Johns Hopkins Medicine; Are You Up to Date on Your Preventive Care?, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; 8 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Doctor, leaving site icon Scripps Health, 2023