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Questions to Ask Your Primary Care Provider

Doctor Q&A

Making an appointment with a primary care provider (PCP) is about more than having your vitals checked—it’s an opportunity to get answers to some very important questions. Having open, honest conversations with your PCP ensures you get the most out of your visit. After all, a primary care provider should be seen as a resource to help you achieve your health care goals and become more invested in your overall health. Here are some questions to keep in mind the next time you visit with a PCP:

How can I prevent ________?

Preventive care is important for keeping health care costs low and maintaining overall health. There’s no need to wait for your PCP to broach the subject of preventive care, especially if you have specific concerns about your individual risk factors. Talking to your PCP about your family history and lifestyle factors will give them a better picture of your health and allow them to make more personalized recommendations for your preventive care and maintenance.

Should I be doing anything differently?

Many PCPs agree that the provider-patient relationship is one of the most rewarding things about their job. So don’t hesitate to ask your PCP’s opinion—they are happy to be able to advise you. Talk to your provider about your health care goals. Maybe you want to lose weight, get in shape, have more energy, or sleep better. Be honest about your lifestyle and ask your provider if there’s anything you should do differently in order to achieve your goals. You’ll likely leave your appointment with some valuable information.

Should I be worried about ________?

One of the most important conversations you can have with your PCP is also one of the hardest to have. None of us likes to bring up private issues or concerns we’re having, but sharing this information with your PCP is vital for ensuring you receive the best care possible. Being open and direct about what you’re experiencing helps your provider give you more accurate advice or, at the very least, helps them ease your worries. Whether you’re experiencing something physical or emotional, discuss it with your PCP. Your mental state is just as important as your vitals and can have a major impact on your physical health.

Why am I taking this medication?

You have a right to understand what you’re taking and why. Asking your provider to explain more about a medication that has been prescribed to you opens up a dialogue about treatment options. When you take a more active interest in your care management, you have the opportunity to help your provider figure out a personalized treatment plan that more closely addresses your individual needs.

Can I stop or lessen medication?

If you’ve received prescriptions from multiple specialists, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes with your provider reviewing those prescriptions. Your provider may be able to point out redundancies or explain why you’re experiencing certain side effects. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the medication you’ve been prescribed, have an honest dialogue with your PCP about it and see if there might be alternative solutions.

Can I have a copy of my records?

Under HIPAA, you have the right to receive copies of your medical records. Reading through your file can help you learn more about yourself from a PCP’s perspective. If you’ve had multiple PCPs in your lifetime, you can review all of their notes and see if there’s anything that jumps out at you—there could be notes in your file that were never directly communicated to you that might help inform treatment options. Talk to your PCP about any questions or concerns you have with your file.

Maintaining an open, honest relationship with a PCP helps you receive more personalized, continuous care. That’s why you want to choose a PCP you enjoy and feel comfortable with. MyHealthKC makes it easy to find the right provider for you. Just take this quiz, and MyHealthKC will show you a list of providers in your area who are highly compatible with your health care needs and interests.