Iris Mini: Preparing for Medical Appointments

“Everybody - every single person - has a story. Find yours and tell it in your voice.” - Kenya Barris

Consider the following tips when preparing for medical appointments: 

  • Bring support. Consider bringing a support person with you to help take notes, as a second set of ears, and to share information and advocate for you as needed. If they can’t be physically present, your support person can potentially join by phone or video call. 

  • Make a list. Write down your questions and concerns and prioritize them to make sure that the most important questions get addressed during your visit. Review these Questions to Ask Your Health Care Team.

  • Come prepared. It can be helpful to make and bring notes about how you have been feeling physically and emotionally since your last visit.

  • Consider tracking. Detailed tracking can help share concerns about symptoms, side effects, mood, and medications with your team. 

  • Organize. Keep medical and symptom notes in one place to help reference information when needed.

  • Plan. Ask about processes for how to get concerns addressed between visits if they can’t wait for your next appointment. Know what to do if urgent needs arise.

  • Share your priorities. Consider proactively sharing your values and concerns. If you are most worried about a certain side effect, or the financial cost of treatment, share this early and often.

  • Expect respect. If you don't feel respected or secure with your team, it is okay to speak up or seek another opinion. 

  • Consider using open notes: A 2021 federal law allows patients to conveniently access their medical record without cost. It can be used as a tool to better understand medical conversations and is a reminder of recent visits and information.