Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice

Dr. Belinda's Top Tips for Patients

Dr Belinda's Top Tips!


Quick Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Medical Appointments

These quick tips can help you get the most out of appointments with your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner. They’re great ways to make appointments more successful for you, your practitioner & your clinic.

"We know things are challenging for many people at the moment due to the lack of family practitioners in our communities. These tips are small things that each of us can do, or get help from our friends/loved ones to do. They will support your own care, and they will help relieve some of the pressure on our primary care system." – Dr. Belinda van der Berg


Tip #1: Plan Ahead!

Before you call to make an appointment with your practitioner, get all your ducks in a row. Here’s a check-list to make sure you have what you need before you call to book your appointment:

  • Write down the main reason you want the appointment
  • Have your Personal Health Number with you
  • Have all your contact information at the ready
  • Have your calendar within reach, so together with the medical office assistant, you can find and book a date/time that works

Tip #2: Create Your Health 'Wallet'!

When you’re seeing a practitioner for the first time, or one you don’t see often, having your medical history gives them the information they need to provide you the best care. Even for your regular practitioner a quick reminder, of for example which medications you are taking, can be very helpful!

As practitioners, it helps us make informed decisions, and gives us more time to discuss your current concerns and provide the support you need. I’d suggest having a short list, and a more comprehensive health wallet. 

You can keep it super simple, just write it down on a piece of paper or using notes on your phone. Or you could use an App. Whatever works best for you!

A short list, for Walk-in clinic / Telehealth visits could include:

  • How you identify
  • Current medical conditions
  • A list of all your medications. Ask your pharmacist to print one out for you!
  • Allergies or adverse reactions you’ve had to treatment

Your full health wallet, for Emergency Department or the first time you see a new practitioner, could include all of the above and:

  • A short background of your health
  • How you identify yourself
  • Surgeries you’ve had
  • Family history of disease

Tip #3: Standby! Call Incoming!

A few tips for phone appointments with your practitioner:

  1. If you’re able to, allow 20m before your appointment and 20m after - sometimes your practitioner might be running early, or late due to unforeseen circumstances
  2. It may seem obvious, but have your phone with you 😉
  3. Please do not call the clinic if your practitioner is late for your phone appointment - they will call you!

Tip #4: Be Bladder Ready!

If you’re coming in for a physical or other appointment where a urine sample will be needed, make sure you’re hydrated and ready to fill’er up!

Tip #5: Medications Please!

Bringing a list of your medications, including how much and how often you take them, is very helpful to any practitioner you see - especially if it's a walk-in or emergency visit. It ensures they can avoid any duplications, or negative interactions between medications. No matter how well you think you know your prescriptions, there is always the possibility that you might forget a name or confuse your dosage amount.

BONUS TIP! Ask your pharmacist to print you a list!

Tip #6: Book Your Return Trip!

If you know you’re going to need a follow-up appointment, why wait? For example, prescription refills require an appointment, so when your practitioner gives you a prescription for the next 3 months of medication, before you leave the clinic, book your refill appointment in 2 months time. Then mark it in your calendar!

Tip #7: Let's Prioritize Together!

Your practitioner is your health care partner! Make sure to bring a written list of the top three health concerns you have for your appointment, we can then go through them and decide together which one is the top priority to address that day.

Tip #8: Don't Panic! Do Call Your Pharmacist

If you can, try and avoid this situation happening, but sometimes, putting it politely, ‘stuff’ happens and an emergency medication refill is needed.

Step 1: Don’t panic!
Step 2: Don’t call your clinic!
Step 3: Do call your pharmacy who might be able to provide an emergency supply!

Tip #9: Write It Down!

You may be surprised to know that 40-80% of medical information provided by healthcare practitioners is forgotten immediately [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539473/]. That’s a lot of lost information!

We highly recommend bringing a paper and a pen to your appointment and don’t be afraid to ask us to repeat things! Or if you feel comfortable with it, bring someone along to take notes for you.

Tip #10: Fill In What You Can... Give Plenty of Time!

If you need a form completed by your practitioner, make sure to fill in what you can before bringing in the form. Especially your name if you’re dropping it off at reception 😉. And make sure to give plenty of time for your practitioner to complete the form for you. How long depends on the complexity of the form, but I’d recommend getting it to your practitioner at least a week before you need to submit it … two would be even better!