Our world is so digital, so online, so virtual these days. Thinking about what you should physically take to a physician visit might be a little perplexing. In our experience, we have found that no matter the situation, having something to leave behind with the physician and office staff is a good idea.

The most important item you can take is your smile, and while this seems like common sense, it can make a lasting impression. So, smile away and smile often during your visit. And, wear a name badge so it is clear who you represent.

Business cards are essential. While they are not handed out as often as in the past, some doctor’s offices still give a business card to patients when making a referral. Also, office staff may use a business card to update their own doctor database or referral system. After inputting your info, they may just recycle it, but the first step of being a resource for that practice has been achieved.

Providing a list of the insurances you accept is helpful as well. The office and doctor will refer to this when considering referrals. And the goal is to make the process as seamless as possible for them so they can easily refer patients to you, as opposed to another physician with incomplete information. Patients will also want to know this information. They may decide it’s worth going out of network or pay cash, but they can’t make that decision until they know if you are in their network.

Brochures serve a similar purpose as business cards, but can provide more details about your practice, such as the services you offer, information about your team, insurances you accept, location of your office, etc. These brochures should look professional, not like something printed last minute on an office printer. A well-done brochure can also add to the first impression you make with that physician and office.

Some physician offices still use referral pads. These are not expensive to produce and provide another way for the staff to have your contact info so they can enter it into their database or referral system. And if they don’t use referral pads, it may be used as a notepad which is still exposure to the office staff when they use it.

And if you really want to make a splash, take a basket or container of candy or some small, individually wrapped, edible goody. This is always appreciated by the office staff. And let’s be honest, you also want to connect with them. They are the gatekeepers in that office. They are the ones who will likely be processing referrals. They could be your connection to growing your practice with their patients.

Lastly, while you’re there, ask for their business cards and brochures. You’ll be able to use these to update your own database and will be a good way to confirm that the information you have for their office is accurate.

And a heads up that some practices will require that you provide breakfast or lunch for the entire office, so don’t be surprised if that is your entry to a visit there. Based on the office size, this could be a considerable investment for you and worth weighing the pros and cons.

Oh, and don’t bring a large bag or purse. It is distracting and if you are visiting for a while, there is no where to store it. We usually leave our phones behind too. You may need it for scheduling a follow-up, but keep it hidden and on silent. If you are a note-taker, bring a small notebook for notes, not a cell phone or a large notebook.

During your visit, you want to be the focus and not what you bring along, but these items will enhance your visit and the impression you leave with the physician and office staff. Let those items be an extension of you so they can shine a brighter light on you after your visit.