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happy young female patient talking to doctor

A meaningful chat with your physician could save your life—or at least help lengthen it. Even in this age of advanced scanning technology, your ability to clearly describe your health problems—and help your doctor understand them— is critical to getting the best possible care.

Here are some simple steps you can follow to ensure that you and your doctor are communicating correctly.

Start the conversation with your physician by explaining the reasons for your visit. Are you visiting for a regular checkup? Do you want to talk about some medication you’ve been taking? Be as specific as possible.

Also remember to tell the doctor if you have been taking over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies, or if you use alternative therapies.

Strive for Five

Whether you’re already a great communicator or you feel like you want your doctor to understand you better, here are five key elements to maximize your visit:

  • Ask questions. You should feel comfortable asking as many of them as you need to understand your doctor’s advice. Ask your doctor to clarify what they’re saying in plain language if they’re talking in “medical-speak.”
  • Make a list of your concerns. Start a few days in advance, if possible, to track symptoms or other concerns. Be thorough and honest; the details are important.
  • Listen. It is so easy to get rattled at a doctor’s visit that it sometimes feels like the appointment is over in a blink of an eye and all you walk out with is the blurred memory of a meeting and a prescription. Consider taking notes.
  • Be honest. Your doctor needs to know about your personal habits so that he or she can provide you with the best care. If you’re uncomfortable talking with your doctor about certain things (for example, personal issues or your use of recreational drugs), remember that he or she cannot share information about you with anyone without your written permission.
  • Work collaboratively. it’s important to work together with your doctor for the best outcome. If your doctor recommends a treatment, share your worries about possible side effects or questions about other options.

Remember, effective communication can go a long way to ensuring that you are receiving a correct diagnosis and quality care. Good communication will keep you better informed, happier and healthier.

Brown & Toland cares about the care we provide. Each year, we send satisfaction surveys to a group of our patients to inquire about their satisfaction with the care they receive from their doctor and medical group. Should you receive a survey from us, we strongly encourage you to complete it so that we can continue to improve the care we provide.