What Is a Medical Consultation?
A medical consultation is a scheduled meeting between a physician and a patient to discuss a patient’s health concerns. The reasons for seeking a medical consultation vary, but ultimately, they involve using a physician’s medical education and experience to maintain overall health, seek advice, receive a diagnosis, or obtain treatment recommendations. Medical consultations can be in-patient, out-patient, or conducted remotely through telemedicine.
Because medical knowledge is so vast, practitioners either specialize in having deep knowledge in a specific area or are generalists with a more superficial understanding across the breadth of medical knowledge. People frequently schedule medical consultations with a variety of doctors throughout their lives to reap the benefits of seeing both specialists and generalists.
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Types of Medical Consultations
Whether you are seeking medical consultation for a rare medical condition, a psychiatric illness, a chronic disease, or preventative healthcare, medical consultations are available.
General Medical Advice
There is a plethora of medical information online, and it can be difficult to navigate all of it looking for an answer to your question. Now that telemedicine is more available and accessible to all, it is easy to access a doctor whenever you need one and get an online diagnosis.
Diagnostic consultations are appointments made with a specialist to seek their opinion on a diagnosis or management of a medical condition. Sometimes people make their own diagnostic consultation appointments, and others are referred to a specialist by their primary care doctor.
To gain the full benefit from a diagnostic consultation, you should transmit your personal health information from your primary care doctor to the specialist. The consultant needs to know why their opinion was sought and what information you and your doctor hope to gain from the consultation.
The reasons people seek a medical consultation are innumerable and vary across demographics, regional locations, and seasons, but some common conditions for which people seek a medical consultation include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Asthma and allergies
- Obesity/weight management
- Mood disorders
- Surgical needs
What to Expect During a Medical Consultation
While the way a medical consultation unfolds may vary based on the reason for seeing the specialists and the goals for the appointment, there are patterns you can expect.
- Check-in procedure: provide health insurance information, personal and health data and complete HIPAA and other forms.
- Screening: a series of questions about your overall health and the reason for the visit.
- Vital signs: height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, and pulse measurements.
- History: a discussion with the healthcare provider to review your medical history.
- Physical exam: depending on the reason for the visit, this may be a complete physical exam or a localized exam of one body part or organ system.
- Differential diagnosis: after the history and physical exam, the healthcare provider will either provide their opinion on your diagnosis or a list of potential diagnoses that require more testing to differentiate.
- Testing: if appropriate, your healthcare provider may order blood work or imaging tests.
- Prescriptions: if warranted, you may receive a prescription. Most prescriptions are transmitted electronically, whether you see a doctor in person or online. These online prescriptions go directly to a pharmacy where they are filled.
How to Prepare for a Medical Consultation
Just as you would prepare for a consultation with a lawyer or a tax professional, it is important to prepare for your medical consultations.
Some ways people prepare for a medical consultation include:
- Checking insurance to verify whether a provider or medical service is covered.
- Researching a medical condition online to develop a list of questions.
- Seeking healthcare provider recommendations from family, friends, doctors, or online reviews.
- Checking appointment availability.
- Checking the cost of an online or in-person medical appointment.
It is important to know that seeing a doctor without insurance is possible. Some medical providers offer sliding-scale payment systems and discounts for cash payments. Pricing can vary, so it is important to check with several providers to get a sense of the average cost. Overall, online providers tend to be less expensive than in-person because they have fewer overhead expenses.
Questions to Ask During a Medical Consultation
Medical consultations can sometimes feel rushed. This is why it is important to have a list of questions and a clear goal in mind for the appointment. Many people bring a trusted friend or family member with them to take notes and to keep track of the answers to their questions.
For many people, their primary goals during a medical appointment are to seek a diagnosis and learn about their treatment options.
Common Misconceptions About Medical Consultations
Your medical consultation will ideally result in a clear diagnosis and treatment plan. Sometimes this does not happen because your symptoms or physical exam findings do not neatly align with a diagnosis. In these cases, blood work and imaging tests may be required to arrive at a more certain diagnosis.
Many people believe that a medical consultation is intended to satisfy the physician and to meet their diagnostic and treatment goals. This is not the case. When you schedule a medical consultation, you should have questions in mind and goals for the appointment, just as you would when consulting any other service provider.
Good preparation improves overall satisfaction and value in a medical appointment. The worst thing you can do is save your most important questions when your doctor is about to walk out the door to attend to the next scheduled patient.
The Benefits of Medical Consultations
If you think about scheduling a medical consultation in the same way that you think about scheduling a consultation with any other professional who provides a service, you are more likely to be satisfied with your outcome.
Providing your doctor with a complete list of your symptoms, a timeline, and any fears or concerns you may have will speed up the diagnostic process, allowing more time for questions and discussion of potential treatment options.
Telemedicine services like Telegra MD make it easy to schedule an online medical consultation conveniently and reliably with a licensed doctor who can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.