Getting the most out of your appointment

October 08, 2014

I was recently asked if I could provide advice on how patients could get the most out of their Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center visits.  In reality, I think most of us have been patients at least once in our lives. The list of tips I provide is comprehensive. However, critical information may be missing.  If you notice omissions, please respond with your own advice in the comments since we can all learn from each other.
 
One of the most important MS life survival lessons is that we are all part of the same team. As a member of that team, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and skills to live your life to the fullest. This starts with the MS Center visit. Where you go with the information, is all part of our journey together:

 
  • Allow extra time to get to your clinic appointment. Know that traffic in Seattle is often bad.  Expect unexpected delays due to weather, accidents, sporting events, etc.
 
  • Arrive at least 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment.  For example, you may need to complete insurance forms, review your medication list for accuracy, find the correct directions to the MS Center, etc.
 
  • Bring your insurance card(s) since we may need to update them.
 
  • If unable to make the appointment, cancel at least 24 hours in advance.  This allows the MS Center staff time to schedule another patient who is on your provider’s waiting list.
 
  • Know which provider(s) you will be seeing.  Many people schedule with more than one person on the same day.
 
  • If you live far away and/or want to consolidate more than one visit on the same day, tell the MS Center scheduler.  We can make this happen.  However, scheduling several appointments on the same day may be exhausting. You might want to limit yourself to 2-3 appointments in one day.
 
  • Please understand that your clinic time is limited.  If you have several health issues to address, you may need to add another appointment.  Prioritize the most important problems first.
 
  • Bring your pharmacy name, address, and phone number to each visit.  Some people use different pharmacies for different medications.
 
  • Bring a current list of medications. 
For example:
  • Put all your medications in a bag and bring to clinic for staff to check.
  • Provide a list of medications and include drug name, dose, frequency, and reason you take each drug.
Be sure to include:
  • Prescription medications.
  • Over the counter medications.     
  • Complementary and alternative medications and treatments.
 
  • Keep track of your medication refills.  Try not to wait until you run out of medications before calling the MS Center.
 
  • Tell your MS provider about any NEW health changes since last clinic visit. For example: new medical problems, surgeries, emergency room visits, medications, allergies.
 
  • Tell us if want your MS Center notes sent to your other health care providers.  Bring their name, address, and contact information.
 
  • Bring someone with you, to the appointment, if desired. This person can take notes, ask questions, and clarify information if desired.
 
  • Bring a calendar to your visits. This will help you schedule future appointments.
 
  • Write down all your questions/concerns, before the visit, and bring this list to the appointment.  Share this list with your MS Center provider.
 
  • Prioritize your health issues, and put the most important items, first on your list. 
 
  • If you have concerns (examples: sexual, bowel, bladder, cognitive) that you do not want to mention in front of the person who accompanied you to clinic, call ahead or send an email via "My Chart" that you want to meet with the provider alone.  You can also call and mention your concern to the RN or send it via "My Chart."
 
  • We appreciate you asking questions and clarifying information.   
 
  • Tell your provider if you think the treatment plan will work/not work and why.  The goal is to find the plan that best meets your needs.
 
  • Discuss your financial concerns.  The Swedish MS Center has staff that can answer your questions and provide you with the financial advice you need.
 
  • Ask your MS provider for good MS internet sites if you want to learn more about MS.
 
  • Inquire about involvement in MS research studies.  Research is not only about medication treatment.  For example, there are studies about MS and Vitamin D, cognitive issues, depression, and exercise.
 
  • When in doubt about health concerns, call the MS Clinic or email us through "My Chart."  We are here to address your issues.
 
  • Stay informed.  Educate yourself about MS.  Go to our Swedish MS Center website for information about upcoming in-services programs, research studies, wellness classes, support groups, etc.