6 Easy Steps to Maximize Your Next Doctor Visit

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With overflowing waiting rooms, we have even less time to spend with our doctors to discuss our health issues.  As a result, we have less time to complete a thorough exam, report our symptoms, ask questions, and discuss treatment options.   It’s in our best interest, as patients, to properly prepare so that we can maximize the limited time we have during a doctor visit.

In January, I was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes.  Although I have a family history of type 2 diabetes, the news still came as a surprise.   I had hoped I would have it later in life.  Fortunately, within in the first 90 days of my diagnosis I was able to successfully bring my A1C level down from 10.5 to 6.3.  I can attribute much of my success to learning how to maximize my doctor’s appointments.  An easy way to remember how to maximize a doctor visit is that it’s all about your H.E.A.L.T.H:  History Education Arrive Listen Track Homework.


It’s important to ensure that your physician has all the information they need in order to make and educated decision regarding a diagnosis.  Providing information such as your family medical history, timeline of your symptoms, and a complete list of the vitamins and herbal supplements that you take are all relevant.  Before your next appointment, take a moment to create a Mind Map that you can provide at the start of your next doctor visit.


SmartDraw Tip: Mind Maps are perfect for organizing ideas and thoughts.  If you’re in the process of remembering the progression of your symptoms, it’s the perfect tool to get your thoughts in order before your next doctor’s visit.  Click here to learn how to create Mind Maps with SmartDraw.

Demystify the Situation Through EDUCATION

As part of my treatment, my physician recommended that I take a series of   diabetes self-management clinics hosted by UC San Diego Health System.  I found the courses along with online information to be helpful in making the appropriate changes to my diet and exercise.   In addition, gaining an understanding of the known risk factors (diet, medication, exercise, and stress reduction) played an integral role in maintaining healthy glucose levels.


SmartDraw Tip: To create the diagram explaining what is diabetes, I started with the Manual template.  Then with the use of various symbols from the Symbol Library, fonts, text sizes and the use of color I was able to demonstrate the differences between the two. In addition, SmartDraw has an extensive   Healthcare Category that includes over 1,500 healthcare graphics as well as information sheets, medical forms and much more.  If, for example, you entered “diabetes” into the search field you would discover a   wealth of information on diabetes.   The information available in SmartDraw is perfect not only for my own knowledge but to share with family and friends.  


Arriving early to your doctor’s appointment is placing a priority on your health.  Take advantage of the time in the waiting room to complete the necessary paperwork as well as give yourself time to focus on you and your health.  Write down any last minute questions or recent symptoms that are not already included in the Mind Map you created earlier.

LISTEN and Take Notes

Stay focused during your appointment and listen carefully to what your doctor is saying. If you don’t understand something, politely ask your doctor to explain it in simpler terms.  If it will help you to remember, take notes.  Many healthcare providers now have online resources that allow you to communicate with your physician after your appointment.  If you are unclear about the prescribed treatment, be sure to contact your physician directly or through the online portal.

TRACK Your Progress

As you begin the prescribed treatment, it’s important to note your body’s reaction and progress.  In some cases, your may require a higher dose or a different type of treatment.  As for my treatment, my primary care physician and my physician specializing in diabetes treatment asked that I test my glucose levels on a daily basis.  Knowing my glucose level before each meal helped me control my diet and exercise.

Information Included in the Tracking Chart:

  • Steps (My goal was to complete 10,000 steps per day)
  • Meal time and glucose level
  • Exercise and duration
  • Medication and doses

SmartDraw Tip: I’m a visual person so documenting my glucose levels wasn’t enough.   I converted the data into a diagram by plotting the information using the Table feature.  I used a series of symbols and colors to add emphasis to my results.  You can learn how color and effects were used in the diagram in the SmartDraw User Guide: Fundamentals for New Users.

5_Glucose Tracking Log w Insulin


I wanted to provide my physicians with proof of that I not only tracked my progress but that I understood the data.  I added a section called “Self Analysis” where I noted variances in my glucose levels.   Noting my highs and lows (dots appearing in the blue bars), increased my understanding of how my body reacts to certain foods, portions, and meal times.

SmartDraw Tip:  In a previous SmartDraw Spotlight post on How to Increase Productivity Using Custom Templates, we covered how you could customize SmartDraw to your personal needs. Since I would be tracking my glucose on a regular basis, I added the “My Daily Glucose Log” as a Custom Template.  Now, I can simply click and drag the custom template into the work area and enter the data.

CLICK HERE for a pdf of a blank My Blood Glucose Daily Log Form

5_Glucose Tracking page 1

To gain a further understanding of my glucose levels by time of day, I created the chart below.   It not only indicated whether my levels were within target range, it also noted when I was beyond target (bold red text).   When I shared the chart (below) with my physicians, they were thrilled with my progress.  They were also impressed with the speed in which I was able to lower by A1C.

SmartDraw Tip: Just like my previous post on Maximizing Time and Minimizing Effort with Custom Categories,  I decided to create a Custom Category of all the templates and diagrams I use to track and analyze my glucose levels.  All the information I’ve documented is now centrally located and easy to access.  Tracking your progress is simple when you have SmartDraw.

5_By Meal Bedtime

Through this experience, I have realized that all the power you need to manage your health comes from within you.  I am truly grateful for the support I have received from my family, friends, and doctors.  It truly has been a partnership working with my physicians, with SmartDraw as the key support tool in managing my progress.  Today, I only test my blood 2’x a day instead of 4’x and I continue to do what I can do to live healthy life.

World Diabetes Day – November 14

The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and it’s member associations in more than 160 countries and territories.  They are supported by all Member States of the United Nations, as well as by other associations and organizations, companies, healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes and their families.  The WDD campaign draws attention to issues of importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight.

SmartDraw Tip:  Based on the information provided by the International Diabetes Federation, I was able to reproduce a map of the global projections of the millions of people who will have diabetes in 2035.  You can view a video on Making Infographics in SmartDraw to learn how the diagram (below) was created.