You could ask a hundred different offices what a “good patient” is to them and you would probably
get a hundred different answers. Every practice has its own personality and personnel. What is
important to each office will make or break an appointment.
There are certain things that will make your life easier and any medical office more efficient.
–Know your objective. Do you need an appointment for a diagnosis, for a medication change, because
someone is making you go, or just for a checkup? If an office knows your objective, they can tailor
the appointment to fit what your goal is.
–Have it ready. When you call an office for an appointment, you know there is going to be a certain
amount of information you will have to supply to get that appointment. You should have your calendar,
your Health Insurance, a name and phone number of any other involved medical providers
(chiropractor, Primary Care) and any referrals that are necessary.
–Know what is expected of you. Do you need to have x-rays or MRI’s, or even old records, with you?
Do you need to have your paperwork done ahead of time and how does that get to you?
Do you need to wear certain clothes if a procedure is being done? Do you need someone to drive you?
–Be on time. Yes we know a lot of offices run late but that is often because the previous patients were
late or unprepared for their appointment. Most offices have a “late policy” but it is very hard to turn
a patient away. Please don’t put people in that position.
–If you are going to be late, call. An appointment may be rescheduled or just switched around with
another. It is much easier to fit you into another slot if we know you are running late.
–Know your history. Fill out the paperwork ahead of time if at all possible. Have a typed copy of the
highlights of your medical history in your hand if you are filling things out in the office. This saves
guessing and/or giving wrong information.
–Know your medications. Please! You should have a typed list of your meds, when you take them,
how often and who ordered them. You also need a list of Vitamins and other “natural “and over the
counter meds you take. Though you may think they are harmless, they can be dangerous, especially
–Have your questions ready. Often your time is limited with the physician, so you need to make every
minute count. Have a list of questions that you want answered so you do not leave feeling like you
have missed something.
Please remember the staff in the office has very little control over what insurance the physician
accepts, how long it takes to get an appointment, how long the wait is, or what the physician says to
you. Don’t yell at them, don’t hang up on them and say please and thank you. Most of them have
been putting up with sick people all day and could use a little kindness. Trust me, it comes back to you.
Article by Catherine Nicholson based on over 30 years as a Registered Nurse and 15 years as a practice manager in a spine practice.