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Your 5-Step Guide To Being A Better Patient

young woman sitting in the doctor's office and talking to a provider

When it comes to establishing a relationship with your doctor, the baby boomers had it easy. They went to the local neighborhood doctor’s office and typically had the same physician for life. It was easy for both the doctor and patient to establish trust with one another and for individuals to develop habits that made them good patients.

Today, many people only see a doctor once or twice a year, which is a far cry from the frequent checkups of older generations. Since wellness visits aren't very frequent, it's important to get the most out of the time you have with your physician.

How to be the Best Patient

This 5-step guide can help you learn how to be the best patient at every visit.

Be honest

It’s important for you to be as open and honest about your health and your family’s health history as possible. Be sure to fill out all requested information to the best of your knowledge. The more information you can provide your doctor with, the better they can help care for you.


While visiting your doctor, it’s crucial to listen and follow his or her orders. Ask questions so you know exactly what to do when you leave the doctor’s office. Some of these questions may include understanding how often to take medication, what kind of a diet or exercise regimen you should follow, and when to make your next appointment. Take responsibility and be sure to follow all instructions.

Don’t worry

Instead of worrying about your health, be proactive and schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to address your concerns or put you in contact with a specialist who can further examine you. You will find that most ailments are actually common and easy to treat. However, don’t dismiss unusual signs or symptoms in hopes that they will go away; seek immediate medical help any time you are unsure of something. It’s better to catch a problem early than to prolong treatment and have a condition worsen.

Only seek advice from medical professionals

Admit it - we’ve all looked up our symptoms on the internet at one point or another and panicked over the severe condition that we were diagnosed with. All of this fear can be easily avoided by simply consulting your doctor instead of your computer. Sure, online resources can be helpful and our friends and family mean well, but at the end of the day the only opinion we should really follow is that of our doctor. Remember, physicians are experts in their field and can provide the best diagnosis and medical advice.

Take advantage of available resources

There are many websites, apps, and other resources available to you to help monitor your health and your medical care. As a Penn Medicine patient, you have access to myPennMedicine, an online portal that allows you to communicate with providers, refill prescriptions, view test results, schedule appointments, and more. For more information or to sign up, visit

When you follow these 5 steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better patient! For more information about how to be a better patient, visit our patient information center

About this Blog

Get information on a variety of health conditions, disease prevention, and our services and programs. It's advice from our physicians delivered to you on your time. 

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