“A good doctor-patient relationship is essential to achieving the best possible care, but the reality is, most doctors have less and less time to spend with each patient,” says Paul Griner, MD, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and author of The Power of Patient Stories: Learning Moments in Medicine.

By preparing for your appointment with your physician, he says, you can ensure that you make the best use of your time together.

He offers the following suggestions:

  • Prepare your thoughts ahead of time so that you can be as precise and accurate as possible. What are the symptoms? When did they begin? What were you doing at the time? How are the symptoms affected by activity or rest? What makes them worse? Have you been able to do anything to relieve the symptoms? How have they affected your daily activities? Don’t withhold any information that might be relevant.
  • Be on time or early. Many patients are late for their physician appointments, which adds to the time crunch. Arrive early so you’re ready when the physician or the physician’s team is ready. View any waiting time as valuable time for reading and relaxation.
  • Research your health concerns ahead of time and use the information to help focus your questions. Use reliable sources for research, including www.mayoclinic.com or www.uptodate.com; information from well-established and respected organizations such as the National Cancer Society; and written materials such as the Harvard Health Letter.
  • Avoid unnecessary office visits. Some things can be done by e-mail, Skype (or similar services), or new technology such as iPhone recording and transmission of your EKG.
  • Take your medications, or a list of them, with you.
  • Take copies of the results of tests or procedures from other physicians.
  • Wear clothes that make it easy for you to be examined.
  • Let your physician know if you are using any complementary or alternative medicine.
  • Take a spouse or other relative with you when the problem is complicated. Two pairs of ears are better than one for remembering what the physician said.

This story was adapted from material provided by News & Experts.

Ideas expressed are those of Dr. Griner (www.drpaulgriner.com) and do not constitute an endorsement by Amplitude Media Group.