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Communicating Effectively With Your Physician

Updated: May 12, 2021

In this world of modern medicine filled with electronic medical records, computers, physician practices owned by large health networks, and shorter appointment times: effective communication between doctor and patient is paramount. It is the dialogue between the doctor and the patient that gives the physician clues about the patient's health. A good doctor patient relationship is important to your health.

As a patient how can you make sure that you are using your time allotted with your physician in an efficient manner:

1. Be Prepared

Sitting in the exam room should not be the first time you are thinking of the topic you would like to discuss with your doctor. Take some time before your appointment to organize your thoughts about the reason for the appointment. Write down any questions or concerns you may have. Prioritize these items prior to your appointment. Realize that in a 20 minute appointment you might only be able to discuss your top 3 concerns. If you run out of time, you can always ask for a follow up appointment.

2. Be Honest

It is important that you are always honest with your physician. Don't be embarrassed about discussing anything with your doctor. Your doctor needs to make an accurate assessment of your symptoms to determine the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. I had a client who did not want to "ruin the doctor's day" by discussing a concerning symptom with him. Thankfully, I was at the appointment and was able to bring up the concern with the doctor to ensure that the patient would be getting the appropriate medical care.

3. Speak up!

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Do not be ashamed to admit that you don't understand. It is important that you do not leave your doctor's office until you fully understand your diagnosis and your treatment plan. If you don't understand something, speak up. She can explain it to you in another way. It is your responsibility to be informed! The only way you can follow your doctor's advice is if you fully comprehend it.

4. Have a Plan

Decide beforehand how will you remember what was discussed during your doctor's appointment. Maybe you want to take notes. You may want to bring someone with you (a relative or a friend) or you may want to have a healthcare advocate with you. As an advocate, I know what questions to ask, and I can ensure that your medical needs are being met. My communication with your doctor will continue even after we leave the doctor's office. Due to my medical degree, I have the skills and knowledge to communicate with your doctors in an effective manner. In my role as a healthcare advocate, I can take the time and explain your medical situation to you in terms that you will understand. Only once you completely understand your medical situation can you be able to fully follow your physician's advice.

As always, if things are not going as planned with you or your loved one's healthcare needs, and you need some guidance, don't hesitate to reach out to me... your healthcare advocate. Your partner in your health.


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