Let’s face it: doctor and medical appointments can be a lot of work. Not only do you need to keep track of times, dates, and testing, but you’ll also need to keep track of your records. When you throw in confusing medical jargon, it’s easy to see just how complicated this process gets at times.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Why Stay Organized for Doctor and Medical Appointments?
- 1. Keep an Updated Calendar
- 2. Get an Appointment Reminder
- 3. Keep a Medical Binder
- 4. Bring a Notebook
- 5. Have an Emergency Plan
- 6. Organize Transportation
- 7. Ask the Big Questions
- 8. Be Your Own Advocate
Whether you’re looking for a way to manage your caregiver duties or to find some clarity in your organizational practices, you’ll want to know the best tips and tricks. From staying prepared to documenting your medical information securely, you’ll want to always stay on top of your own care and treatment.
In this guide, we’ll share the best tips for doctor and medical appointment organization. From utilizing the latest in technology to planning for the future, you can never be too careful.
Why Stay Organized for Doctor and Medical Appointments?
If you only go to one or two medical appointments a year, you might wonder why you need to pay such close attention to your organization in the first place. Those who don’t have many medical complications might be able to get by without being very organized. But it’s still a good practice for everyone.
First, staying organized makes sure you actually remember appointments. With so many different doctors to see annually (or more often), you can easily forget a scheduled appointment. This could leave you waiting even longer to receive care, so you’ll want to be on schedule.
Additionally, it’s a fact that patients don’t always remember medical information shared by their doctor. This is understandable, with so many terms and jargon to keep track of. But it’s important to fully understand your own healthcare.
Finally, many family members act as caregivers for loved ones. So it’s a good idea for them to help with organization as well. The good news is that there are many tips to help you keep track of appointments and information.
1. Keep an updated calendar
Everyone should have a calendar or planner that they look at daily. A planner is a great place to store your appointment dates and times so that you don’t forget. Often, if we have to make appointments weeks or months in advance, they’re forgotten when the date actually comes around.
Keeping a calendar ensures you always know what’s coming up. If possible, use a digital calendar so you can set alerts before the day. You can easily share a digital calendar with loved ones, as well, so they can make sure you remember.
2. Get an appointment reminder
Speaking of digital reminders, there’s an app for that. There are many tech tools designed to keep your appointments on track. From traditional calendar apps to software that’s medical-specific, you can find something that meets your needs.
When choosing a reminder app, be sure to pay close attention to security. You don’t want any private medical information released publicly. But as long as you’re checking reviews and using only trusted apps, you should feel confident in this method. Some of the best apps for appointment reminders are:
Your provider might also have a way to set appointment reminders. More and more healthcare organizations are integrating technology and apps, and these reminders are a great tool.
3. Keep a medical binder
Another great idea if you have a long medical history is to keep what’s called a medical binder. This is a literal binder that includes important information like:
- Basic information
- Insurance information and cards
- Health care providers
- Emergency contacts
- Medical documents (advance directive, medical power of attorney, etc.)
A medical binder is a highly efficient way to stay organized. While your health provider likely already has your medical history, you’ll want to have copies yourself for your records. This type of binder is ideal for a caretaker, families, and anyone who wants to prepare for the future.
4. Bring a notebook
We’ve all had questions for our doctors that we promptly forgot as soon as we got to the exam rooms. Testing, medical exams, and treatments can be a whirlwind. It’s easy to forget to ask things that have been on your mind.
To combat this, you should bring a notebook to your appointments. This is an easy way to write down questions in advance. When you have a list of questions, you won’t forget anything important you wanted to ask.
Additionally, a notebook is a space for you to write down anything the doctor might share with you. It’s easy to forget their instructions, recommendations, and so on right after an appointment. By taking notes, you stay on the same page.
5. Have an emergency plan
Nobody likes to think about what might happen in an emergency situation. The sooner you can plan, the easier an actual emergency will be. Everyone should have an emergency plan that includes:
- The type of care you’d like to receive
- Emergency contact information
- Doctor contact information
- Hospital information
- Insurance cards and policy documentation
- Copies of essential documents
This emergency plan should be easy to access, and it also should be shared with loved ones. Making sure that everyone is aware of where to find this key information is the best way to make sure it’s put to use if the time comes.
6. Organize transportation
Sometimes, the most challenging part of medical care is organizing safe, reliable transportation. This is especially true for those who can’t drive themselves. If you need help getting to doctor’s appointments, take action before your appointments so you know exactly what to do.
Many local organizations and city services provide free or low-cost transportation. You’ll also want to know about senior transportation alternatives.
If you’re relying on a family member to get to and from appointments, talk to them in advance. Include them in your reminders and scheduling so you can ensure they’re available and that there won’t be any last-minute conflicts.
7. Ask the big questions
As we mentioned above, it’s not always easy thinking about the future. This is especially true when it comes to long-term care and what might happen if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. In reality, these are questions everyone should answer regardless of their age or health.
Take some time to talk to your family members about these questions:
- What type of long-term care would you like?
- Who would you want to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable?
- How do you feel about life-support?
- What efforts would you like to be taken to prolong your life?
- What does “quality of life” mean to you?
- What type of final arrangements would you like made when the time comes?
These are not easy questions, but they may help reduce your loved ones’ burden in difficult situations. It’s important to stay on the same page with your family members, no matter what the future brings.
Once you’ve discussed these questions, take steps to complete a living will, advance directive, or medical power of attorney. This ensures your wishes are always taken into account, even if you’re unable to make them yourself.
8. Be your own advocate
It’s important to be your own healthcare advocate. This means staying organized on your own and not relying on providers to do it for you. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it. Your loved ones can go with you to appointments, help you create a medical binder, and act as advocates for you as well.
While attending appointments is an essential part of caring for yourself, you’ll also need to make sure your voice is heard. This starts with organization and preparedness. Educate yourself about your options, diagnoses, and concerns. And don’t be afraid to speak up when it comes to your health.
Organization Starts with Preparedness
Healthcare can be intimidating. Not only is it a challenge to know when you should see a provider, but providers also expect you to take in a lot of information at once. The best way to stay prepared is to get organized. Whether you take care of your own medical information yourself or have a caregiver, you can become an advocate for health and wellness.
Taking notes, making a binder, and keeping your calendar up-to-date make all the difference. Your time with your health providers is limited. Take full advantage to make the most of your care.