What you do—or don't do—during a doctor's appointment can have a significant effect on how well it goes. You know your body, symptoms, and concerns best and have a lot to contribute to any discussion with your doctor. Here, four key steps to take for a better office visit.  

Get to the point quickly. The typical doctor’s office visit ranges from 10 to 20 minutes, which might be why physicians often interrupt patients after only 23 seconds. So right away, concisely explain why you’re there. “Communicate the most important thing to your doctor first,” says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser. If you have a few problems, focus on two or three, leading with the one that concerns you most. Writing down your concerns beforehand can help you organize your thoughts and ensure that you don’t forget anything important.

Bring a medication list. Let your doctor know about all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies that you take regularly. That way, your physician can fully assess the possibility of side effects and interactions. And if you didn’t finish or fill a prescription, confess! Otherwise, your doctor might assume that the drug didn’t work and prescribe a more powerful medication or a higher dose.

Know your health history. Being able to talk about your previous medical problems and procedures can make an office visit much more efficient. The information should be in your medical records, but it's helpful to be able to talk about it off the top of your head. Write it all down if it’s complicated.

Take notes. Jot down key information about any condition you have, medication you're prescribed, or actions you need to take. “Doctors like patients who write things down and are organized,” advises John Santa, M.D., a medical adviser at Consumer Reports. “It says that this person is more likely to do what he is suggesting.”