Keep effective communication with your doctor
An ideal doctor-patient relationship should embody both understanding and trust. Without one or both of these components, it can be nearly impossible to address your health questions and concerns in an effective manner.
Although there may be some initial discomfort in exposing personal details about yourself with someone you don't know very well, it's important that you clearly and completely express your concerns with your doctor to ensure the most effective diagnosis and treatment.
To improve your communication with your doctor, consider the following tips:
• Stay in touch between visits. You should feel comfortable contacting your doctor when any new health issue arises. During your next appointment, establish a method for contacting your doctor if a non-emergency medical issue were to come up, the National Institutes of Health advises.
This can include methods such as e-mail, communicating through the nurse, or leaving a message at the front desk. Having a way to communicate would not only strengthen your relationship with your doctor, but would also allow you to respond quickly and appropriately to any budding illnesses or medical concerns.
• Ask questions. It may be difficult at first, but you have to ask your doctor questions about your health and the treatment process to ensure you are getting the best care possible.
Specifically, you should come prepared with a list of questions you have and prioritize them according to your greatest concerns. Try to be as detailed as possible by taking notes beforehand to ensure accurate descriptions. Always ask for clarification if your doctor gives you instructions that you don't understand.
• Record your visit. To guarantee more effective communication, it's important to make an effort to get the most out of each visit. Bring a recording device into the room or take notes while the doctor is instructing you so you can understand everything that is being said, and to be sure you can follow their instructions with complete accuracy.
In some cases, it may even be beneficial to bring a friend to take notes for you and ask questions that can help you better understand your doctor's orders.
• Provide all necessary information. Your doctor will most likely ask you everything he or she needs to know before assigning a diagnosis and treatment. However, it is better for your communication efficacy to be upfront about all of the information, such as other medical experts that you are seeing, any medical allergies you have, medications you are currently taking, herbs or vitamins you are taking, and so on.
These kinds of things will have a big impact on how you will be treated, so telling your doctor this information right away not only improves your communication, but also ensures the most effective treatment.
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