Planning For Your Next In-Person Visit

While some appointments can be done virtually using telemedicine, there are still many visits that need to be done in person. If you need to attend an in-person visit, planning ahead may help you get the most out of it.

These days, there are some new things to consider before attending an in-person doctor’s visit.

Impact of COVID-19

Some people may be tempted to avoid in-person visits because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be a dangerous approach. Since the pandemic, telemedicine options have increased, but there are many health issues that still need to be handled in-person. Visits that cannot be held virtually include lab work, imaging tests, and certain in-person physical exams. Before a visit, ask your doctor if there are any virtual options.1

How to prepare

Preparing before your visit can help it go smoothly. COVID-19 may impact how your in-person visit runs. Some offices have put changes in place because of the pandemic. It will be easier to navigate any new policies if you ask about them ahead of your visit or when you make your appointment.2

New policies will depend on the office you visit. You may be asked to fill out forms before the visit to reduce the time you spend in the waiting room. There may also be new rules like wearing a mask or not being allowed to bring visitors. The visit may look different too, with socially distant waiting rooms and staff wearing more personal protective equipment (PPE).2

Leading up to your visit, it may help to write down questions you have for the doctor. By going into your appointment with a prepared list, you have a smaller chance of forgetting something important. It also may be helpful to take notes on your symptoms. This can give your doctor a more complete idea of your symptoms and may help them better treat you.3

What to do during your visit

If it is allowed, you may want to plan for someone to come with you to your visit. If you are not allowed to bring a guest, you could ask about having someone join via speaker phone. Bringing a visitor or having someone on speaker phone serves as a second set of ears and can be helpful. This person can be a friend or family member.3

You can discuss with your visitor what you would like them to do during your visit. It may be helpful for them to take notes for you so you can focus on the doctor.3

Plan to ask your provider for a recap at the end of the visit. It can be easy to forget the specifics of a visit even if everything you discussed seems clear in the moment. During the recap, you may want to ask your doctor to focus on any instructions they might have given. This gives you a second chance to make sure you understand everything and to ask any last-minute questions.3

Questions to ask before your next visit

Some questions you may want to ask to prepare for attending an in-person visit include:1-3

  • Are there any special procedures for visiting the office?
  • Will the waiting room be socially distanced, or can I wait in my car until it is my turn to see the doctor?
  • Are appointments being scheduled to reduce crowds?
  • For this type of visit, do you suggest an in-person visit or virtual?
  • Can I bring someone with me to my visit, or will I be able to put someone on speaker phone?

In-person visits may look a little different these days, but with some preparation, they can run smoothly.

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