When you’re putting your health in the hands of someone new, it’s important that you feel comfortable with them. Whether it’s making decisions about your care, understanding the costs involved or knowing what to ask to ensure you are at ease with your choice of specialist.

Deciding on next steps for treatment

It can be a little overwhelming to discuss treatment options, especially if you’re considering surgery. Choosing Wisely Australia (a global initiative for quality of health care) have outlined questions to make sure you ask when you meet your specialist.

Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?

Tests may help you and your doctor, or other health care provider, determine the problem. Other options, such as medicines and procedures, may help with your treatment. You should check the cost of any test your specialist is recommending to help you understand the out of pocket costs that you may incur.  If you have a test that is covered by Medicare your private health insurance cannot fund the same test. 

What are the risks?

Make sure you ask your doctor any questions you may have to ensure you are informed of the risks associated with your treatment.  Discuss with your doctor if there will there be side effects to the test or treatment, the chance of getting results that aren’t accurate which could lead to more testing, additional treatments, other procedures that may be required or should be considered.

Are there simpler, safer options?

Are there alternative options to treatment that should be considered? Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods, reducing alcohol, stopping smoking and exercise, can be safe and effective options.

What happens if I don't do anything?

Ask if your condition might get worse — or better — if you don’t have the test, treatment or procedure right away.

What are the costs?

Costs can be financial, emotional or a cost of your time. Are the cost reasonable or is there a cheaper alternative?

Next: Step 6 - Procedures and costs

Learn: What are out of pockets?