Most individuals will need to seek medical evaluation and care at some point in life. This can be a very tense and frightening experience, especially if the individual is very ill. Interactions with health care providers can be intimidating. Whether you are healthy and just in for a yearly check-up, or you have an urgent medical problem, there are some ways that can help to reduce the stress and make the appointment more productive.  Your responsibility is to become an active participant in your health care. It is our pleasure to evaluate and care for you. This process helps us better meet your needs.

Here are some tips to help you interact with your provider and have a successful appointment:

  • If you are a new patient to the practice, arrive to the office about 15-20 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to complete paperwork. Some offices will mail new patient forms ahead of time for you to complete at home- always ask if this is available.
  • Always arrive on time to the appointment.  If you are running late, call as soon as possible to let the office know- you may need to reschedule.
  • If you need to reschedule, please call the office as soon as you know. Do not just “no-show’ for your appointment- this wastes valuable time for another person who might need to be seen.
  • Ask the receptionist if your health care provider is on schedule- Sometimes in a specialty practice (such as a surgical or specialty) the provider may be delayed in the operating room or hospital. If your provider is late, ask for a time-frame, and if you are unable to wait, reschedule your appointment.
  • Bring your insurance card and a photo ID to the appointment. If you do not have these, the appointment may need to be rescheduled.
  • Bring your co-pay. Most insurance policies require some amount of co-pay- if you are not sure, ask when you schedule the appointment.
  • Bring a complete list of ALL of your current medications- including over the counter meds such as Tylenol, vitamins, supplements, etc. The provider will review your medications with you during the appointment.
  • Bring a list of all of your medication allergies- it is vitally important for your provider to understand your previous reactions to any/all medications/latex or tape.
  • If you have had scans (MRI, CT, x-rays) from a different facility, have that facility transfer the images to a CD and hand-carry them with you for your appointment. DO NOT rely on the imaging center to mail the images to the provider. In most cases, a radiology report is not sufficient- the provider must see the actual pictures on the CD.
  • Be completely HONEST with your provider. If you smoke- tell him/her. If you drink alcohol or use drugs- be honest about the amount and type. Your provider cannot help you unless he/she understands all of your health issues.
  • If you are receiving prescription medications- especially narcotics- from another provider, tell your provider at the time of your appointment. Some medications can interact and result in life-threatening problems- your provider needs to know exactly what/how much you are taking.
  • Be aware that if you are given a prescription for a controlled substance (such as a narcotic), the prescription information will be entered into the Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database.
  • ASK–Write down all of your questions ahead of time so you are sure all of your concerns are discussed.
  • If you do not understand what your health care provider is telling you- speak up and ask for clarification.
  • If you do not speak or understand English, bring someone with you who does. If you do not have someone to accompany you, ask for an interpreter when you schedule your appointment
  • Bring a family member or close friend with you to the appointment to help remember what was discussed.
  • HIPPA laws require that your health care provider have written permission from you to talk with ANYONE else about your health care. The providers are NOT allowed to speak to anyone (including a family member) without your written permission.
  • Bring a pen and paper to write notes- especially if this is the first time you visit with a provider.
  • If the provider orders a test, such as MRI, CT scan, colonoscopy, etc, make sure you ask the specific requirements of the test (such as food/water/medications prior to the test) and if you will need a driver
  • Do not expect to leave with all of the answers- more often than not, the provider will need to order or review tests to make conclusions
  • If you schedule a follow-up or return appointment, have the receptionist give you an appointment card with the date and time.
  • If you call the provider’s office, make sure to leave a working phone number to receive a return call. If you are unavailable during specific times of the day, make sure the office is aware.
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