Developing a strong doctor-patient relationship is crucial to receiving quality care. A strong relationship with your doctor leads to quicker and more accurate diagnoses and improved health management. Good communication, trust and respect are crucial to developing a strong relationship with your doctor that will help keep you healthy.
Prior to your appointment, take a few moments to prepare yourself. Gather any thoughts and write down any questions or concerns on an index card or even on your phone and bring this list to your appointment. By focusing on the issues you need to communicate beforehand, you will be using your limited appointment time to the fullest and won’t be wasting this valuable time trying to remember your concerns. Your physician will appreciate being able to use your appointment time more efficiently and will have more time to listen to your concerns and make recommendations.
During your appointment, make sure you are completely honest with your doctor regarding your symptoms. While some symptoms may be embarrassing, your doctor shouldn’t be making you feel uncomfortable for disclosing them. Chances are very high that your doctor has seen many patients with similar symptoms. It’s also important to be honest with your doctor about your lifestyle habits. Many doctors suspect that their patients aren’t following their diet recommendations or may be drinking alcohol even though their patients aren’t admitting it. Dishonesty about things like this can cause your doctor to may make recommendations that aren’t best suited to your care. You may also find that your doctor will be less likely to fully listen or invest in your care without full disclosure on your part.
Bring a family member or close friend to your appointment if possible. Having someone else there may help put you at ease if you are especially nervous. Your companion may also be a helpful communication liaison if you routinely struggle with clearly expressing yourself or if you are elderly or suffer from memory problems. Your physician may find that your companion can better explain your care plan in a way you can more easily understand.
If you don’t bring a companion to your appointment, make sure you fully understand your care plan. Ask your doctor any questions you may need to ask to get a thorough understanding of your diagnosis, any tests you may need to have, any follow up appointments that need to be scheduled or any medications you need to take. Also make sure you understand when your medication needs to be taken and if any lifestyle changes need to be made. If anything is unclear, make sure you ask for clarification or further explanation before leaving your appointment. If you have a question at home, don’t hesitate to call your doctor’s office to ask.
After your appointment, follow the care plan laid out by your doctor. Take your medication as directed and do your part by following the diet and exercise recommendations your doctor may have made. Your doctor can prescribe the best medicine or latest procedures for your illness, but if you don’t follow instructions, it won’t work.