Strong communication between a physician and patient is one of the most important qualities in an effective relationship with a care provider. Almost all information used for diagnosis and treatment of patients comes from patient and doctor communication; questions regarding your medical history and what symptoms or complications you are experiencing are vital pieces of information to provide you with an accurate and precise diagnosis and treatment.
Strong communication in your care does not fall solely on you; your physician will need to hold up their end of the relationship as well. As a patient, here are some tips on obtaining strong and productive communication with your care provider:
Eliminate distractions. There are countless distractions that can pull us away from being present when in the exam room; the most common distraction is our mobile devices. Many of us are connected to our phones to be easily accessible for our careers or for constant connection with our family and friends. It is advantageous to keep your phone on silent or turned off while in your physician’s office.
There are other distractions to consider besides merely your mobile device; think through who is in the exam room with you. Is it someone you trust and are fully comfortable around to share your confidential information? Will you feel uneasy with that person hearing about your diagnosis or embarrassed to ask questions in front of that person? It may be in your best interest to ask this person to wait in the waiting room.
Fewer distractions mean you can focus on the situation at hand; you will be less likely to forget to share information, you will comprehend the information your physician is sharing with you, and you will have more opportunities to ask helpful questions for you to properly digest the information.
Ask questions. It can be common to not fully understand the information that your physician is sharing with you. If there is any doubt in your mind you fully comprehend the information provided, you should absolutely ask questions! You are encouraged to keep asking questions until you understand your situation, symptoms, and treatment options well.
Remember, your physician went through years of schooling and training to be able to have the knowledge and skill set to provide you with proper care. It is perfectly understandable for you to not understand everything they are relaying to you. Between medical terminology, abbreviations, and how the human body works, it is understandable how someone working in another industry or even in health care may not comprehend what their physician is saying. Just how someone working in the IT industry, with years of education and training in this field, may have terminology, abbreviations, and explanations they use on a daily basis that a physician may not understand. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Utilize technology available to you. With the ease of availability and accessibility of technology today, there are multiple ways for you to have strong communication with your doctor.
One of the most common ways is through patient portals. Patients are able to check test results, request medication refills, monitor bills, and send messages to their care team through different media and devices. Utilizing this form of easy communication with your care provider can strengthen the relationship between you and your physician. Most medical offices provide this form of communication as an option for their patients – take advantage of this!
Another common way is through telehealth services. This may not be available from all medical offices, however, it is becoming increasingly popular as a successful way for patients to be in contact with their care team. For instance, some medical offices may use this as a means for patients to monitor vital signs and health conditions. This provides your physician and care team with timely and accurate data to better be able to diagnose and treat your condition(s). This constant communication can help build and maintain a strong relationship between you and your physician.
Remember, your physician can’t properly diagnose or provide you with proper treatment unless there is effective communication in place. The more timely and accurate the information you provide to your physician, the better the care you will be able to receive! Remember, effective communication does not fall solely on the patient, but it is important to take a proactive step in your care by fostering strong communication with your physician.