Good communication is essential in every aspect of your life, and your health is no exception.
A breakdown in communication at the doctor’s office can be a major obstacle to getting adequate care. Your doctor may not hear all your concerns, or you might not understand directions and leave confused.
The best way to make sure you get the most out of your doctor’s appointment is to take an active role and communicate your needs. These four tips can help you ensure each visit with the doctor is worth your time:
Give your doctor all the information you can
Some symptoms are easy to tell the doctor about, like a broken arm or a sore throat. What can be more challenging for patients, however, is bringing up symptoms that are embarrassing or that seem unrelated to their main complaints. It is important to keep track of all the symptoms you notice, as well as when they started and how long or often they appear. Take notes to help you remember everything you are experiencing.
“Proper communication with your healthcare provider is critical for them to be able to diagnose and treat what ails you,” says Dan Bushnell, administrator at Gramercy Court Assisted Living. “Don’t leave out any symptoms or details, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you, because they can help paint the whole picture for your doctor.”
Ask questions about medications
If your doctor needs to prescribe a medication for you, make sure to gather all the information you need about what you will be taking. Inform your physician about any medications you are taking so they can avoid harmful interactions with the new prescription. Ask why you need this particular medication and the right way to take it. Find out what side effects you should expect, and which ones should have you seeking medical attention. Your doctor can also help you find the most cost-effective medication option, such as generic versions or manufacturer discounts. After your appointment, keep track of how well the medication is working so you can talk to your doctor about it next time.
Make sure you are heard
It may surprise you, but doctors are human too. Their specialty may not always be good communication, or they may be rushed as they see a lot of patients. If you still have concerns at the end of your appointment, don’t walk out of the office without making your voice heard. Tell your doctor if you still have questions that haven’t been answered. They will likely take the extra time to address them, or you might need to find a new physician who can make time for you.
Don’t leave confused
It is often in people’s nature to try not to be a burden on others. This can lead to problems at the doctor’s office if you don’t understand what is going on, but you don’t want to bother anyone. Take charge of your health and ask the right questions to ensure you leave the office with a full understanding of what health concerns you may be facing and what you need to do to address them.
Communication is a two-way street, and doctors and patients need to work together for doctor visits to be effective. Next time you have an appointment, use these ideas to help you be an advocate for your health.
Dr. Amy Osmond Cook is a health care technology consultant and VP of marketing at Simplus, a Platinum Salesforce Partner.