Easy Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Doctor | Health Pick

Easy Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Doctor

Improve Your Relationship With Your Doctor
  1. Prepare for your appointment. It’s more than just getting to the office on time. You should also bring all of your current medications (over-the-counter or prescription) to your appointment, along with notes about key facts like whether you’ve gotten a flu shot at a health clinic, Dr. Tucker said. Write down any recent health problems or concerns that you have beforehand, so you make sure to bring them up.

 

  1. Prioritize your problems. It’s true that doctors tend to be pressed for time, but that doesn’t mean you should modify your needs to fit within a 30-minute window, said James Tulsky, MD, chief of palliative care at Duke University School of Medicine. Make a list of the things you want to address, and let your doctor know how many things are on it at the start of an appointment, Riess suggested. Ask how many items on your list your doctor can get to today, and if they’re not all addressed, talk about making another appointment, she said.

 

  1. Don’t just share the chief complaint, share the chief concern. It may seem more natural to simply tell your doctor about a specific problem you’re having — pain in your knee, for example. But it’s equally important to share what your main concerns about it are, Riess said. Your concern might be about whether you need to have surgery for your knee, because surgery worries you, or because you’ll need someone to watch your kids. If you don’t share your concerns, your doctor can’t respond to them, and remember — doctors are trained to address your concerns, too.

 

  1. Make sure you leave with the information you need. It can be hard to speak up in a doctor’s appointment to say that you don’t understand how to take a medication or what you need to do to follow up. “It feels like you’re interrupting,” Tulsky said. But when you leave the office, you become responsible for your care, so you need to make sure all of your questions, including emotional concerns, are met. Tulsky also noted that research shows that doctors respond more strongly if a patient brings up a question twice.

 

  1. Record your visit, or bring someone to take notes. There’s often a lot of information to absorb during a doctor’s appointment, particularly if you’re facing a major, frightening health challenge. You may be distracted by trying to take in a diagnosis, so it can be helpful to bring along a spouse, friend, or family member to take notes and ask questions, said David Longworth, MD, the chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s Medicine Institute. Alternatively, you could record your visit so you can refer to the information later, Tulsky said — just make sure you ask your physician if that’s all right.

 

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