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Make the Most of Your Doctor Visits

Shift in the Doctor Patient Relationship

Learn about the evolution of the doctor patient relationship. Featuring: Deborah M. Miller, PhD; Amit Bar-Or, MD; Robert Fox, MD; Marie Namey, APRN

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Preparing for MS Doctor Visits Telelearning

Learn tips to prepare for successful visits with your doctor. Kathy Costello, MSCN, Associate Vice President of Clinical Care, National MS Society shares ideas on how to build a true partnership with your provider. Each telelearning is offered twice to accomodate all time zones and recorded.


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In this article


Every doctor is different, and it’s important to find a doctor whom you respect and with whom you feel comfortable. In turn, it’s important to have a doctor who respects you, your values and priorities, and who wants to work with you to manage your multiple sclerosis (MS).

It is well worth the effort to search for this kind of doctor — and to advocate for yourself with your insurance company in order to have access to the doctor you choose. You will also need to do your part by preparing for appointments, writing down your questions, and being as clear as you can in explaining your symptoms and issues. And keep in mind that the doctor who partners with you to manage your MS may not be the same doctor who helps you manage your overall health and wellness. Bring to your MS provider the issues and questions relating to your MS and bring other questions and concerns to the attention of your primary care provider.

Prepare for your appointment

Write it down

  • Be prepared with a prioritized list of problems and questions

  • Have a list of prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies, herbals, vitamins or other dietary supplements you’re taking. Download a medication tracking form (.pdf)

Review your health insurance plan

  • Be clear about what your plan will or won't cover, especially if you choose to go out of network.

Consider transportation issues

  • Traveling a long way to see the right healthcare provider is often an intelligent investment. However, it's wise to think through the costs in money, fatigue and stress on family members.

Don’t be bashful

Anything that’s of concern to you — including problems with your mood, sexual function, thinking and memory, or bladder and bowel function — is of interest to your MS healthcare team and important for them to know. If you’re not sure what’s related to your MS and what’s not, ask your doctor or nurse to help you sort it out.

Patient Bill of Rights

  • To be treated with respect.
  • To have and to express my feelings and opinions.
  • To be listened to and to be taken seriously.
  • To set my own priorities.
  • To say no without feeling guilty.
  • To ask for what I want.
  • To get what I pay for.
  • To ask for information.
  • To make mistakes.
  • To choose not to assert myself.
  • To change my mind.

Patient Bill of Responsibilities

  • To keep scheduled appointments.
  • To be honest with the doctors and other healthcare workers.
  • To give information about my experience and condition as clearly and briefly as possible.
  • To respect the doctors and healthcare workers.
  • To understand that no one has all the answers to MS.
  • To follow the treatment plan agreed upon

Managing MS and another disease?

The best way to manage two conditions is to make your primary care physician an integrated part of your healthcare team. Many people with MS plus another disease see only specialists.

General practitioners have experience with a broad array of medical issues. They are ideally positioned to monitor all the medications a person is taking and to watch out for potentially harmful interactions.

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