Patients and health care providers share a very personal relationship. Doctors need to know a lot about their patients, their family, and lifestyle to give the best medical care. And patients need to speak up and share their concerns and questions. Clear and honest communication between patients and their health care providers can help everyone involved make smart health choices about.
Here are a few tips for patients on how to make the best out of their next doctor's visit:
- Write down a list of questions and concerns before your exam: Begin with some preparation. Before your health exam, make a list of any concerns and questions you have. Bring this list to your appointment, so you won’t forget anything.
- Consider bringing a close friend or family member with you: Consider taking along a family member or friend when you visit the doctor. Your companion can help if there are language or cultural differences between you and your doctor. If you feel unsure about a topic, the other person can help you describe your feelings or ask questions on your behalf. It also helps to have someone else’s perspective. Your friend may think of questions or raise concerns that you hadn’t considered.
- Speak your mind. Tell your doctor how you feel, including things that may seem unimportant or embarrassing: Even if the topic seems sensitive or embarrassing, it’s best to be honest and upfront with your health care provider. You may feel uncomfortable talking about sexual problems, memory loss, or bowel issues, but these are all important to your health. It’s better to be thorough and share a lot of information than to be quiet or shy about what you’re thinking or feeling. Remember, your doctor is used to talking about all kinds of personal matters.
- If you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do: Do you have a new symptom? Have you noticed side effects from your medicines? Do you want to know the meaning of a certain word? Don’t wait for the doctor to bring up a certain topic, because he or she may not know what’s important to you. Speak up with your concerns.
- Take notes about what the doctor says, or ask a friend or family member to take notes for you.
- Ask about the best way to contact the doctor (by phone, email, etc.).
- Remember that other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, can be good sources of information.