The doctor-patient relationship is a unique one based on trust and confidence. A sound two-way communication and mutual respect forms the basis of a successful doctor-patient relationship and the doctor plays a crucial role in fostering good relations.
Studies have shown that a personal connection between a doctor and a patient improves the quality of care. A U.S. News and World Report article reported “researchers found that people who have a strong relationship with a specific doctor are more likely to receive care that’s consistent with recommended guidelines.”
Below are some tips for building a strong doctor-patient relationship:
Talk to your doctor
Sounds simple, yet many people are afraid to talk to their doctor. Some people just don’t know what to say to their doctor. The keys are to relax and go to your visit prepared. Write down any issues you need to discuss and take to your appointment. Talk and share information with your doctor much like you would with a friend.
Tell your doctor about current and past health issues or problems. Let your doctor know about any symptoms you are having and any medicines you are taking. Give your doctor a full health history of your life. For some people, it helps to write a short “health journal” on a sheet of paper before they go to the doctor to help them remember.
Emotions often have an impact on your health. Let your doctor know what’s going on in your life, such as whether you are feeling stressed or if anything in your life is changing. Although you may feel like some things going on in your life aren’t important to your doctor, your doctor needs to know these things in order to assess your whole health.
What may be the most important advice to know when you visit the doctor is to SPEAK UP. Let your doctor know if you do not understand something. Sometimes doctors may talk about something in terms you don’t clearly understand. Asking your doctor to put things in plain English doesn’t mean you’re not smart. It means you want to be clear about what your doctor is telling you.
Take information home with you
Doctors often pass along a lot of information to their patients. You may not remember all they tell you once you leave the office. Write down anything your doctor may pass along. It also helps to bring a friend or family member as an advocate to make sure you know and understand everything your doctor tells you.
Ask your doctor for any brochures or other materials that may help you.
Follow your doctor’s instructions
It’s very important that you follow any instructions your doctor gives you during an office visit. If your doctor prescribes medicine, requests a test, or sets up an appointment with a specialist, it’s important for you to follow through.
If you get confused or if you forget some information, do not wait until your next visit, but get in touch with your doctor for clarification.
Your doctor also should be contacted if something isn’t working right. For example, if a medicine your doctor prescribed isn’t working, or if you haven’t received test results that your doctor ordered, let your doctor know.
These simple steps will improve your doctor-patient relationship and result in a healthier life for you.