Talking to your Health Care Provider about Diagnosis

Should you talk to your healthcare provider about osteoporosis diagnosis?

Bone health is a lifelong commitment. Everyone should talk to his or her health care provider about bone health. Risk assessment is the first step in taking an active role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis. To find out about your personal risk for osteoporosis, you can use the NYSOPEP Osteoporosis Risk Assessment tool that is right for you. (Risk Assessment for Premenopausal Women, Risk Assessment for Postmenopausal Women, Risk Assessment for Men)

Who diagnoses osteoporosis?

It is important that you choose a health care provider who is knowledgeable about the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis. An “osteoporosis specialist” is typically an endocrinologist or a rheumatologist, though there are many types of health care providers who can diagnose and treat osteoporosis. Some of these include: primary care providers, geriatricians, gynecologists, physiatrists and internists. To take an active role in managing osteoporosis, make an appointment with your health care provider to discuss your risk factors for osteoporosis and when it is the right time to get a bone mineral density test (BMD test)

How will your health care provider diagnose osteoporosis?

A comprehensive assessment to make the diagnosis for osteoporosis includes many steps, such as a physical exam, personal and family medical history, lab tests, standardized yearly height measurements, calcium & vitamin D assessment, and a bone mineral density (BMD) test when indicated.

It is important to be prepared for your visit to your health care provider. Asking the right questions will empower you to make informed decisions about your bone health. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What is my personal risk for osteoporosis?
  • When is the right time for me to get a BMD test?
  • Is the BMD test covered by insurance?
  • Is a BMD test painful?
  • How do I prepare for a BMD test?
  • How will I understand my test results?
  • How often will I have to go for a BMD test?

Preparing for a telemedicine appointment:

Covid-19 has made a temporary shift towards virtual medical consults. Here is what to do before a telemedicine appointment-

Scheduling your appointment: Besides paying attention to the time and date, it is important to keep in mind that your healthcare provider could be in a different time zone. So plan accordingly.

Demographics & medical records: Be sure to provide the most current insurance and contact information. You must fax, mail or email your medical history related records and list of your medications. Enquire if you need to fill out any forms in advance related to medical/surgical history.

Technology: If your visit is by telephone, make sure your mobile phone is charged. Take the call in an area where the signal is strong. If your visit is by video, determine which device you will use (smartphone, computer, tablet etc.) and test them beforehand for correct microphone and camera settings.

During the visit: Make a list of your questions and concerns beforehand, so you can discuss them with your doctor during the visit. A family member can be present with you during a virtual visit, just like an in-person appointment. Make sure to note down your follow up plan as directed by your specialist.