Learning how to talk to your doctor is likely not something we think about before we go in for a doctor’s appointment. Given the time constraints of our visits, perhaps it should be? It is important to be prepared for every visit in order to get the most benefit from that time together. This is especially true for those with multiple and/or chronic medical conditions.
The ideal patient-doctor relationship is really a partnership, and an important element of this partnership is communication. Open and honest exchange of information is critical to managing good health and identifying health issues as early as possible. This means feeling comfortable asking questions, openly sharing health concerns and taking an active role in the exchange. Giving careful consideration to your symptoms, needs and the purpose of the visit will make time with your doctor time well spent.
I’ve provided a few tips that should help enhance communications between the patient, the caregiver and the physician.
- Start by making a list of concerns prior to the visit. Prioritizing your concerns will help you and your doctor be efficient. Most likely, you will not be able to get beyond points number two or three, thus the importance of the priority.
- Be prepared with the details about your symptoms, medications and any special needs that you might have while in the exam room (i.e., hearing assistance, interpreters, etc.)
- Bring a friend or family member that you trust can help. Ask them to take notes; this allows you to pay close attention to the physician and not have to worry about some of the details, which can come flying at you rapidly. Have them prepared to remind you of any important details or questions that need to be addressed.
- Following the visit, it is important to review your notes and start making preparations for the next steps. Make sure that you understand what is needed for any testing, new treatments and subsequent follow-up visits.
A useful guide on Talking with Your Doctor can be found here: