Communicate with your doctor: How is your doctor patient relationship ?

Physicians have a responsibility to connect with patients.  The doctor patient relationship is the centerpoint of medicine todayMost doctors do our best to communicate with you to understand your needs and in turn to help you understand your condition.  Studies show that 40% of patients don’t get all the information that wanted. Our goal is a solid doctor patient relationship.  We spent years ourselves to learn about your medical condition, and in 5 minutes, have to try and convey it to you so you understand as well.  This is rarely simple.  We know that you don’t necessarily understand and medical information is hard to absorb, especially when it is about yourself!   One study showed that doctors wrongly assume patient’s knowledge about 40% of the time.

Get your questions answered.  Here are some simple tips:

  • Make a list of questions.  Many of my patients walk in with a list.  I love this.  We can go through it together and be sure each question is answered.
  • Prioritize your questions.  Start with the most important ones and work down your list.  There may not be time to answer a full page of questions, so be sure you get to the ones that are most important.
  • Bring a friend or loved one.  It’s often easier to listen when it’s not about you.  They may think of questions you forgot and help you remember what was said.
  • Take NotesTake notes.  Feel free to write down your own notes during the visit.  It can be difficult to understand terms and ideas you have not been to medical school to learn.  Use these notes later to look up terms and ideas you don’t understand.
  • Consider other ways to connect with your doctor.  Using email or a patient portal can be effective once the face-to-face appointment has already occurred and you have questions about what you talked about.
  • Request a copy of your visit note.  While written in ‘doctor-speak’, this should help give you some idea as to what the doctor is thinking, and ensure the visit corresponds to what you were trying to convey.
  • Come back again and ask more questions.  In fact, ask my questions hereFor many, including myself, it takes time to digest your thoughts, think about all that was said, and be able to ask important questions.  It’s never a problem to make another appointment with your doctor to learn more.

Your doctor should be someone your trust on a deep level, and with whom you are able to discuss your needs.  Grow your doctor patient relationship.  Make the best of your time with your doctor.