Preparing for a consultant appointment

Bupa Logo at the reception
Lead Physician at Bupa
02 January 2024
Next review due January 2027
Taking steps to manage your own health condition can make a real difference. It may influence, for example, how fast you recover from a condition or treatment, or how many complications you have. Preparing for a consultant appointment is an important part of that.
female doctor on a phone and laptop

It’s easy to forget important questions during a consultation, and time is likely to be limited. So, it’s good to think ahead about questions you’d like answered. Doing so will help you to communicate with your doctor and get the information you need.

Preparing for different types of appointment

Whether your appointment is in person, over the phone, or virtual, these are some things to consider.

In-person appointment tips

  • If you are able to, consider taking a trusted friend or or family member so they can note down any important information and provide support if you need it.
  • Try to leave plenty of time to find where you need to go. Most hospitals have maps and directories of the different departments, and staff can also provide directions.
  • Make sure to check in with reception when you arrive. Some clinics have their own reception areas. Once they’ve confirmed your details, you’ll be shown where to wait for your appointment.

Telephone appointment tips

  • Make sure you’ve provided the right phone number – and stay near your phone for the planned appointment time.
  • Prepare as you would do for a normal appointment. Do you have any notes and questions, and your details to hand?
  • Make sure you’re sitting somewhere you feel comfortable discussing your private medical information.
  • Be prepared for the clinician to ask for some of your details, such as your date of birth and postcode. This is to ensure that they’re speaking to the correct person.

Preparing for a video appointment 

  • Make sure you get any equipment you need ready well in advance. Test it if necessary. You’ll need a mobile phone, tablet, or computer with a camera, microphone, and internet access.
  • Go through any instructions you’ve been given on how to access your appointment. If you don’t have the necessary equipment, or are having difficulty using it, contact the hospital beforehand. They may be able to help or offer an alternative.
  • As with telephone appointments, be ready on the day. Have your notes, questions, and details to hand. And be in a suitable location to protect your privacy.
  • If you experience any technical difficulties on the day, let the doctor know straight away. You may be able to continue via phone instead.
  • Be prepared for the clinician to ask for some of your details, such as your date of birth and postcode. This is to ensure that they’re speaking to the correct person.

During your appointment

When you’re talking to your consultant, don’t forget to note down key information. Or you can ask if they can provide you with some printed information. It can be hard to remember everything that was said afterwards.

If you’re having a consultation online, you might want to ask that it’s recorded and for a copy that you can replay later. If there’s anything you don’t understand, be sure to say. The better informed you are about your condition, the more confident you’re likely to feel in managing it.

Finding out more about your health condition

If you’ve just been diagnosed, understanding your condition is important. You may have lots of questions of your own, but the suggestions below may give you some pointers.

  • Will I have this condition forever?
  • How may it affect my day-to-day life?
  • Why do you think I’ve developed this condition?
  • Can this condition cause other health problems for me?
  • What should I do if I start to feel unwell?
  • Is my condition passed on from a parent (hereditary)?
  • Can it go away by itself?
  • What can I do to help myself?

Talking to your consultant about tests you might need

You might have an appointment with a consultant before your diagnosis is confirmed. This could be about having tests to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis. Here are some things you might like to ask.

  • What does the test involve?
  • Are there any risks involved?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • Are there any alternatives to this test?
  • What happens if I don’t have the test?
  • How long will I have to wait for test results and how will you tell me about them?
  • How should I prepare for my test?

Asking your consultant about available treatments

If your appointment is to discuss your treatment options, there can be lots to think about. Make sure you get all the information you need from your consultant before making any decisions. Here are some key questions to ask.

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks or side-effects associated with the different treatments?
  • What is the chance of the treatment working for me?
  • Will the treatment cure my condition?
  • Can my condition come back after treatment?
  • What will happen if I choose not to have any treatment?

At the end of your appointment

Before your appointment ends, check your notes to see if you’ve discussed everything you wanted to, and make sure you’ve written down the key information. Don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation of anything you’ve unsure about, or to ask about what happens next. These questions will help you get the most out of your appointment.

Bupa offers digital GP services through different routes to suit you. If you have Bupa health insurance you have unlimited access to Digital GP appointments through the Digital GP app (in partnership with Babylon). If you don't have health insurance, our remote private GP service is available to anyone who wishes to book a self-pay video appointment with a private GP via Bupa Health Clinics.

Bupa Logo at the reception
Lewis Caplin
Lead Physician at Bupa



Sheila Pinion, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • Hibbard JH, Greene J. What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs. Health Aff (Millwood) 2013;32(2): 207-14. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.1061

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