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Create successful provider-patient relations
Communication key to strong relationship
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:22 am
by Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity

Communication is key in any successful relationship, including the relationship between a patient and his or her healthcare provider. A good relationship will result in the best care possible. You’ll also feel more confident in your provider and in the quality of care you’re receiving. How easily do you communicate with your health care provider? In this article, we will address some ways to make talking to your provider more effective.

Be prepared
The best way to make the most of your visit is to come to your appointment prepared.

• Write down all the questions you have for the provider in advance and bring a pen and paper to take notes.

• Bring a list of symptoms if you’re not feeling well.

• Bring a list of all the medicines you take. Write down the dosages and how often you take them. Include vitamins, herbal remedies and other supplements in your list.

• Arrive early enough (if possible) to fill out forms.

• Have your insurance card readily available, and bring your medical records or have them sent in advance if you’re seeing the provider for the first time. Also, bring your health care advance directive, which outlines instructions about your care if you become unable to speak for yourself. Go over it with your provider so that your wishes are clear.

When you meet with your physician, be sure to mention:

• Symptoms you are having – the more information you share, the better your provider will be able to treat you.

• Your health history

• Personal information, including whether you are stressed

• Medicines you are currently taking – including how often and the dosage of the medicine

• Side effects you have from your medicines, especially if it makes you feel sick or if you think you may be allergic to it

• Vitamins, herbal remedies, over the counter weight loss pills, or supplements

• Anyone else you are seeing about your health – mental and physical

• X-rays, tests results, or medical records you may have

Questions to ask regarding newly prescribed medications:

• What kind of medication(s) must I take? For how long?

• What does the drug do? Will there be any side effects?

• What should I do if I have side effects?

• Can I take a generic version of the drug?

• Will the medicine interact with any medications I am already taking?

• Should I avoid any kind of food or activity while taking this medicine?

Many patients feel uncomfortable asking questions of their provider; however, don’t be afraid to speak up. We are here to help make recommendations to better your health, and we are willing to answer any questions you may have. If you don’t understand what your provider is telling you, ask him or her to explain it again. Using different words or showing you a picture can help. Don’t leave the office without understanding everything the provider has told you. As physicians, we partner with you to provide the best health care. You should feel comfortable to talk about important health matters like diet and weight, exercise, stress, sleep, tobacco and alcohol use, sexual practices, and vaccines.

Also, it is important to note that you should feel free to tell your provider when you need more time to talk about something. If he or she is unavailable to help, you should be able to talk to a physician assistant or a nurse. If no one else is available, please schedule another appointment to continue your talk. 

Bring someone with you
Sometimes, people like to bring a friend or family member to a provider’s appointment for moral support. A companion also could help you relax, remind you of questions you forgot to ask, and help you remember what the provider said. If you need personal time with the provider, they can simply wait in the waiting room. Having someone join you is especially helpful if you feel too ill to get around easily on your own.

Follow up
Make sure to follow any instructions your provider gave you during the appointment, like taking medicine or scheduling an appointment with a specialist.

If you’re confused or if you’ve forgotten some information, it’s okay to contact your provider again. If the provider would like for you to schedule a follow up visit, be sure to set up and keep the appointment. The following are some common reasons you may need to call your provider:

• If you have any questions after the appointment. Ask to leave a message with the provider or speak with a nurse. 

• If you start to feel worse or have problems with your medicine.

• If you had tests and haven’t gotten the results.

Overall, your relationship with your provider should be positive and comfortable. If you feel like your relationship with your provider is not positive or they do not have your best interest in mind, you have the right to seek out another provider.

Do you need further information or have questions or comments about this article? Call toll-free 1-877-530-1824. Or, for more information about the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, visit: http://www.wakehealth.edu/MACHE.


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