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A team approach to good health

Exam roomThe Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) advises that one way to make sure you get good quality health care is to be an active member of your health care team. You can do this by taking several steps before, during and after your appointments.

Before your appointment

  • Plan to take all medications to your appointment: prescription, nonprescription, vitamins and supplements.
  • Write down questions before you go to your appointment.
  • Know your current medical conditions, past surgeries, and illnesses.

If this is difficult for you, ask a family member or friend to help you prepare and go with you to your appointment.

During your appointment

  • Communicate any new sign or symptom you are having, no matter how insignificant you may think it is.
  • Reflect on health history and any problem you are having with any medication.
  • Ask questions, so you have full understanding.
  • If you are concerned about following directions, ask for written instructions, a brochure, video or website.
  • If you need a treatment or test, ask why, how, when and where.

After your appointment

  • Follow your health care provider's instructions. If they have advised you to take a medication, or go for a test or treatment, unless you said no before you left the office, they assume you will follow through.
  • If you do not understand any instructions, call the office for clarification.
  • Talk with health care provider or pharmacist before you stop taking any medication.
  • If symptoms get worse, call the office immediately.
  • Make appointments for test to be done, if the office hasn't already done so. Call the office to check on test results if you have not heard anything.

Consumer Reports surveyed 660 primary-care physicians about their professional challenges—and about what patients could do to get the most out of their relationship with their own doctors. Two top findings were:

  • Doctors and patients alike put a high value on courtesy and professionalism.
  • Patients aren't taking full advantage of strategies that doctors think are helpful, such as taking notes during their visits.

Doctors said that forming a long-term relationship with a primary-care physician is the most important thing a patient can do to obtain better medical care.

To find out more from AHRQ please visit: To read the entire article about what physician wish their patients know, visit:

Article provided by Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator with Community Outreach.