Tips for making the most of your GP consultation
General Practice remains the cornerstone of our health system with about 80% of Australia visiting a GP at least once a year. Recent reports suggest that although our population is growing, the number of GP's in Australia has remained fairly stable for some years, meaning that on average, each GP has more people to look after. While the average length of Medicare claimable consultations has stayed constant, at approximately 15 minutes since 2000–2001, patients are presenting with more reasons for a consultation and the management of chronic diseases has also increased.
To help provide the best possible care within the allocated appointment time, it may be worthwhile for patient's to take a more active role in their health care.
Here are a few suggestions:
Have a regular GP
Visiting the same practice allows a GP to become familiar with your medical history, build up an understanding of your health needs and help prioritise management of any health issues. Familiarity between you and the GP should help generate good communication, which is important for effective health care.
You may find it helpful to write questions down before your appointment. You may like to have a family member or carer with you, especially if you have any language difficulties.
An Interpreter Service is available to accompany you to an appointment. For more information call 13 13 04 or speak with the receptionist.
Keep a list of Medications
Especially useful if you are taking multiple medications. The list should include all prescriptions, over the counter and complementary medications (such as vitamins and herbs) and any known drug allergies or reactions.
Leave with understanding
You should feel reassured that you can be completely frank with your GP and ask questions when you don't understand an instruction, treatment decision or medication choice.
Make the right appointment
Practices have different length appointments to cater for different needs. Short appointments are usually for repeat prescriptions and test results.
If you require a full check up, Workcover issues or management of a complex condition you may need to request a long consultation.