Communicating With Your Doctor
How do you ensure that you make the most of the time you spend with your physician or health care provider? As with all successful relationships, honest and open communication is the key to establishing an effective doctor/patient partnership.
Prevention is essential
While many of us don’t think about going to the doctor’s office unless we are sick, it’s important to receive appropriate health screenings and immunizations when needed. This preventive care often can prevent serious illness or catch diseases in early stages when treatments are most effective. It also helps you to build a relationship with your physician in which he or she can begin to gather important information to better diagnose you when you are ill.
Do your research
Spend some time before you visit the doctor to do the necessary work that ensures you’re ready for your appointment. Spend time thinking about those questions that only you can answer:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did they start?
- What, if any, lifestyle changes have you experienced recently?
- What are the most important questions you would like the doctor to answer?
Write down your answers and your additional questions so that you will not forget what you want to ask the doctor when you get to the office.
Bring the right information
The office staff and the doctor need all of the relevant information to diagnose your illness, answer your questions properly and ensure your insurance is billed correctly. That’s why we ask patients to bring the following information with them to every appointment:
- Insurance card
- Insurance co-payment
- A list of all medications you currently are taking
The truth and nothing but the truth
Doctors need to know when you have questions or concerns about the information they’ve shared with you. If you don’t intend to get a test completed or to take the medication that has been prescribed, you should let your physician know this so he or she can offer additional advice.
If you’re confused about something, don’t hesitate to ask the doctor to explain it again or to use different words. Try to get answers to any questions you have before you leave the office. And write down the answers—don’t assume you’ll remember everything you’ve discussed once you leave the office.
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