Often times, people forget that the relationship between a patient and their healthcare provider should be a two-way street. Doctors can only figure out so much from exams and tests. The most valuable information comes from patients talking about how they are feeling. Similarly, patients deserve to have the information they need to make decisions, even during a busy clinic day. Never-the-less, the path to communicating well with your healthcare provider can be difficult to find.
Here are some tips to remember when visiting your healthcare provider:
- Consult your provider: Health problems will come up, and when they do, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider. This means talking to them not only when the problem arises, but also in follow-up to ensure that the correct steps are being taken to solve the issue.
- Be honest: Healthcare providers depend on you to be as honest and specific about your health history as possible. They need this information in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Remember that everything you talk about with your doctor is confidential except in very specific circumstances.
- Medications: Be honest and specific about all medications you are taking. This includes over-the-counter, supplements, and even herbal medications. If you are not taking a medicine that your provider prescribed tell them why. Do not tell the doctor you are taking a medication just to make them happy!
- Take your prescriptions: It is very helpful for providers and nursing staff to be able to see which medications you have, what they look like, and how they are dispensed.
- Make a list: It is easy to forget what you wanted to talk about with your provider, especially if there is more than one thing. Writing things down helps you get all of your questions addressed.
- If you don’t understand, ask: Some people avoid asking questions during appointments because they are worried about being annoying. We appreciate your concern, but if you have a question please ask! This is the only way we will know if you understand the complicated things that we discuss.
- Follow advice: When your provider gives you advice concerning your daily routines, its best to follow the advice. These things could concern nutrition, exercise, or anything else. As with medications, if you are not following our advice please tell us why so we can understand your lifestyle better!
- Go in for regular checkups: What counts as “regular” depends upon your age, sex, and medical history. Some people may not need to come in for years while others may benefit from coming in monthly. Consult your provider as to how often you should come in for checkups.
- Keep open communication: If a medication or treatment isn’t working, make sure to talk to your provider. Having an open line of communication with your healthcare provider is extremely important in maintaining a healthy relationship with your healthcare provider and attaining your health goals.
We all want to stay healthy, but sometimes sickness is a reality in life. Working to have a good relationship with your healthcare provider can make all the difference.
“We depend on good communication with patients,” says Benjamin Ross, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Waukon. “We want to know about you so that we can decide together what therapies and strategies are best for you.”