How To Get the Most Out of Your Endo Visit
As part of our Quality Improvement initiative, We asked two people with type 1 diabetes who also have extensive experience in the clinical world their strategies for how to maximize the value of a visit with the endocrinologist.
The Problem: Many Doctors are Too Busy
We first asked Craig Bobik, a member of T1D Exchange’s Quality Improvement team and a former diabetes center administrator at the University of South Florida and research protocol manager at the Jaeb Center for Health Research, to define the problem. Bobik drew on 35 years of personal experience with T1D and his work experience to give us this overview:
The healthcare system in the US can fail the people with chronic diseases it is trying to serve, particularly those with T1D. In general, the doctors, nurses, and dietitians recognize the importance of the patient perspective, but they can’t avoid the financial pressures of their organizations. This pressure can make it difficult to provide optimal medical care for people with T1D.
Here is a list of tasks your providers want to complete during your exam:
- Medical/physical exam
- Lab review
- Prescription refills
- Medical device data download and review
- School/work forms
- General counseling
- Medication adjustment
- Documenting the visit
As you can see, there is a great deal to review during each visit. Knowing this, it’s important to have a game plan to make sure your individual needs are addressed. You can’t expect the provider to pull every detail out of you, and going in cold without a plan does not maximize your time or money.
You live with this disease every second of the day, and only see a healthcare provider every few months. In the end, they are consultants in the business of keeping you alive; most of it is up to you. What you do between visits will have the biggest impact on your overall health and help you get the most out of the next endo visit.
An Endo Visit Game Plan
We then asked Alicia H. McAuliffe-Fogarty, PhD, vice president of patient-centered research for T1D Exchange and the former vice president of lifestyle management at the American Diabetes Association, for her thoughts for how best to prepare for a visit with the endocrinologist. She drew on research and her own experience as a person with T1D to provide this checklist:
Here are some tips for how to get the most out of your appointment:
- Educate yourself about diabetes and your treatment plan.
- Write down questions you have for your doctor.
- Write down any symptoms you are having.
- Bring a log of your blood sugar readings if you are not on a CGM, or print your CGM report (if your doctor’s office doesn’t download them) to review during your visit.
- Write a list of any medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking including the time of day and dose.
- Bring a pen and paper to take notes (and reading glasses if you wear them).
- If you are overwhelmed or concerned about your visit, ask a family member or friend to come with you to the appointment.
- Be honest with your doctor and ask any questions you have, even the “embarrassing” ones.
- Ask questions until you get the information you need. Ask if you don’t understand what your doctor tells you, if you need a referral, or even where to get more information.
- Set a goal. Work with your doctor to decide what you want to work on before your next appointment.
What tips can you add? Leave your ideas below.
-Craig Bobik, Alicia H. McAuliffe-Fogarty, and Craig Idlebrook