Make the most of your next doctor's appointment

Most of us lead busy lives. But one thing we don’t want to rush is the precious time we spend with our doctors. Consumer Reports reveals some easy tips to help you get the most out of your one-on-one time with your doctor.

Consumer Reports says that getting the most out of your appointment begins before you enter the office. It’s important that you come with your information prepared and know what you want to discuss. Organize a prioritized list of your questions ahead of time. Sometimes the best intentions get derailed. Doctors may be distracted with entering data, telephone calls, and other interruptions. Patients may be distracted by their cell phones and by what’s going on in their lives. But both doctor and patient need to ignore distractions, slow down, and really listen during an exam.

Additionally, Consumer Reports says for doctors, dealing with electronic health records can take time away from the patient. A 2014 study by Northwestern University found that primary care doctors spent about a third of the time managing records on a computer during an exam rather than looking at their patients. That can make it harder to pick up nonverbal cues.

If you feel like your doctor is distracted or fails to understand your problem, it’s fine to politely let him or her know. Most will actually appreciate the opportunity to slow down and focus.

Once you are satisfied that all your concerns have been addressed, repeat the action plan at the end of the appointment to make sure you are in agreement with your doctor, and get a printed copy of your patient summary, which is usually at the reception desk.

One last thing: At times you may find it helpful to bring a friend to your appointment to be a second set of eyes and ears, and to take notes for you on anything that was discussed.

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