Every minute of a doctor appointment counts – there are only about 15 in a typical primary care visit. To get the attention and care you need and deserve while the clock is ticking, that brief encounter needs to be as efficient as possible. To make that happen, preparing ahead is essential.

Before your visit

• Write down the topics you want to discuss with your doctor. Consider any differences in your health since you last visited. Watch for changes in eating, sleeping, sudden aches or pains, skin changes or growths, and note your overall sense of well-being.

• Jot down any questions you’d like to ask, ranked by priority. That way even if you only make it through a few, your most pressing concerns will be addressed.

• Know your medical history and keep an updated written copy.

Bring these items to your appointment:

• Your up-to-date insurance information and form of identification

• A list of all medications you are currently taking, including how many times a day and the dose strength. Include both prescription and over-the-counter (such as aspirin, vitamins, and herbal supplements). You may find it easier to bring in your medication bottles, or packages for the doctor to check.

• Your list of questions, of course!

During your visit

• Take an active role in your care.

• Your well-being depends on being comfortable in sharing your thoughts, concerns, and needs with your physician. Ask questions and repeat any information you don’t fully understand.

• Remember to inquire about recommended screening exams and preventative medicine visits.

Advance preparation for a doctor’s visit is a vital step toward becoming a partner and an advocate for your own health and well-being. Patients who write down questions in advance are more likely to stay focused and get their questions answered.

Most importantly, remember that an ongoing relationship with a health care provider who has in-depth knowledge of your health history, family background, past injuries or illnesses, allergies, and risk factors for certain diseases can mean better health for you! Find a practitioner who meets your needs.

Looking for a primary care physician? Meet Chestnut Hill Hospital affiliated primary care physicians at the Pastorius Park free summer concert series on Wednesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it, check out chestnuthillhealth.com and click on find a physician.