The days of doctors making house calls, the stuff of classic Hollywood films, are long gone. In today’s world, insurance limits, primary care referrals and crowded waiting rooms are the norm. However, in this modern healthcare system, it has become apparent that doctors and patients are often not in sync with each other when it comes to patients’ beliefs about their conditions and potential treatment. According to a study published in the July 2010 Journal of General Internal Medicine, this disconnect between patient beliefs and a doctor’s perception stems from a lack of communication.
In order to bridge the gap in communication, there are a few general tips you can follow to make your health safer and easier for both you and your doctor:
- Build trust and set expectations. In improving patient-doctor communications, a foundation of reasonable expectations, mutual respect and trust must be laid. Consider what your expectations for your doctor will be. What do you want to learn from him? Having him explaining illnesses, treatments and referrals may be important. But you also need to let your doctor know that you trust him to care for your needs and you’ll follow through with the necessary recommendations.
- Prepare for your doctor appointment. Your doctor will want to know a detailed history of complaints, symptoms and concerns. Write out questions or concerns you may have. Ask your parents or other family members about any family medical history or chronic issues. By being self-aware and prepared, you save yourself time and offer your doctor the chance to make accurate diagnoses and more appropriate suggestions based on a wider background of knowledge.
- Remember who the expert is. Thanks to Web resources, such as Web MD, people can learn the significance of many symptoms; however, some knowledge can be dangerously misleading. When you visit your doctor, remember you there for treatment or health monitoring. Being able to share your symptoms is important, but self-diagnosing can create confusion and potentially put your health in jeopardy
- Remain focused during your visit. Generally, if you have a specific condition or concern, then you should talk about causes, symptoms, treatments, diagnostic procedures, lab results, precautions, and key lifestyle changes. Asking for more information or asking your doctor to explain confusing or complicated points will aid you in understanding your health issues and aid your doctor in appreciating your level of concern and knowledge.
The pressure of effective and costly patient care and standardized practices often leaves people more concerned with insurance issues than lab results. However, in order to establish good communication with your physician, you must be a proactive, focused and prepared patient.