New Mexico Health Connections | my connection | Summer 2019

connecting you to better health & wellness { SUMMER 2019 | FOR MEMBERS OF NEW MEXICO HEALTH CONNECTIONS } S ome of life’s most important moments take place in a doctor’s office. That’s because your checkups and other appointments with your provider are a time to focus on your most precious possession: your good health. Yet, doctors must see a lot of patients, and appointments can pass by quicker than the both of you like. Why not make the most of your valuable time together? These tips can help make your next visit a productive one: Do some prep work. Before your appointment, write down your questions or concerns. For instance, if you want to discuss a new symp- tom you’re having, think about some details in advance, such as what makes the symptom better or worse. Be candid. Your doctor needs honest information to take the best care of you; it’s important to open up, even if it embarrasses you. Your doctor won’t be upset or shocked at your habits. Being open and honest is important when it comes to anything that might affect your health and well-being, such as: • Your smoking or drinking habits. • Your sex life. • Your emotional well-being, including feelings of depression or anxiety. Ask about screenings and adult vaccines. Depending on your age and other factors, it could be time to update your shots or get a poten- tially lifesaving cancer screening test. If your doctor doesn’t mention such things, ask what screening tests or immunizations you may need. Speak up if something isn’t clear. If you don’t understand any part of your doctor’s instructions or advice, don’t just nod your head. Ask your doctor to explain these things until they’re crystal clear. You can repeat your doctor’s instructions out loud to see if you got them right. Make a medicine list and share it. Your doctor needs to know everything you’re taking—including vitamins, herbs or over-the-counter medicines. This is important because some medicines can interfere with treatments or trigger a dangerous reaction. Make a list of all your meds and supplements, or bag them up and take them to your appointment. Bring some help. Is it hard to remember your doctor’s instructions? Consider bringing a loved one or a close friend to your appointment for a second set of ears. Another option: Ask your doctor if it’s OK to record the visit. Get some expert advice. A doctor appointment is a chance to get advice that could literally change your life, so take advantage of that opportunity. For instance, are you thinking of losing weight, changing your diet or quit- ting smoking? Ask your doctor the best ways to accomplish your goals. Sources: National Institute on Aging; National Library of Medicine Need a doctor? Visit to find a doctor near you. Patient portal: A window into your healthcare Most medical providers today have patient portals. A patient portal is a secure website linked to your doctor’s or other provider’s electronic medical record of you. The portal gives you 24-hour access to your personal health information (PHI) from anywhere with an internet connection. Using a secure username and password, you can view information such as recent doctor visits, hospital discharge summaries and medications. To make sure your PHI is safe, patient portals are hosted on a secure connection and accessed through an encrypted, password-protected login. Being able to view your medical records through a patient portal can help you be more involved in your own healthcare. And if you are the healthcare representative for a family member, having access to their PHI can help you take care of them more easily. Patient portals also offer self-service tools that can cut down on phone calls to your doctor. They may even save you a trip to the doctor’s office. If you haven’t tried using your doctor’s patient portal, call them to find out how to get started. 7 ways tomake themost of your doctor visits