Blog PostsOct 8, 2021

5 Ways to Help Establish Effective Physician-Patient Communication

Written by Vane Carvelli

Communication in any setting or relationship is of utmost importance, and it is also quite vulnerable. This fact holds true for the relationship you have with your healthcare provider. The quality of the communication you have with your physician will have a significant impact on your healthcare experience. It also affects your satisfaction level, the effectiveness of the care you receive, and how you follow medical advice.

Think about it, have you ever been in a situation where inefficient communication, whether written or otherwise, caused an issue? Well, it’s the same in this case, and that issue could be something serious. So, in this post, we will discuss how you can build and strengthen that relationship with your doctor. We will also look at why it is essential for you to develop such a connection with your healthcare provider.

1 . Share everything!

No matter how insignificant you believe a piece of information is pertaining to your health, still share it with your healthcare provider. If it’s a cough, a small rash, a slight pain, or even a minor headache, your doctor should know. They are the experts, and what you deem unimportant could very well be a vital piece of information that may help to change the course of your treatment.

If you have been dealing with a particular condition for an extended period, this tip is especially for you. The slightest differences you notice could mean a change in your condition, so don’t keep any secrets from your doctor, tell all. Even the tiniest piece of information can help to amend your management plan and improve your condition.


2. Write them down!

We all get that feeling sometimes; we have a question to ask or something to share, but suddenly we freeze up and leave yet another appointment without expressing those concerns. Well, the next time you have an upcoming appointment, try putting your thoughts onto paper. When you write an actual list, you can hand it to your doctor so that he or she knows exactly what your concerns are.

Using this method helps to alleviate the anxiety associated with opening up to your doctor. If you have a chronic illness, for example, hypertension, simply writing down your daily measurements or changes in how you feel and providing your doctor with this written communication can help to foster healthy communication and improve the results of the care you receive. This method also works well if you tend to forget whatever you need to share or ask.


3. Listen to your doctor! 

We know that sometimes listening to your doctor can sound intimidating, and after a while, you zone out. However, this is not safe, and it is important to understand that optimal communication is not just about getting your point across; it also involves listening and understanding the other party. So, in this case, pay keen attention to what your doctor is saying as you need to be able to understand because this involves your health. You can even write instructions down for future reference.

Also, listening gives you the opportunity to ask questions and clarify any misunderstandings. Let’s look at an example as to why it’s important to listen.

Jane is diabetic and went to the doctor, her medications got changed, and the doctor explained that she should discontinue the other medication. Jane was not listening, and after getting home, she took the old medications and the new ones. Her blood sugar level fell very low, and she got hospitalized.


4. Ask questions!

Your doctor is rushing, and your appointment seems to be over before it even begins. However, most doctors at the end of the appointment will ask you if you have any questions. Whether or not they do, don’t be shy no matter how embarrassing you may think it is; go ahead and ask. Your doctor is a trained and experienced professional who is not there to judge you but to help you. All your doctor wants to know is what your concerns are so they can address them and help you feel better. 

So the next time you visit the doctor and feel embarrassed to ask a question, just remember your doctor cares way more about your health than an embarrassing situation, and you should too. After all, you’re already there, so why not get the help you need? Additionally, if your doctor says something you don’t understand, ask for clarification. This helps you to better follow their medical advice and get better management results.


5. Involve the actual patient!

If you are the caregiver for the actual patient, such as an elderly person or someone with a disability, do not exclude them from the conversations with the doctor. Many times, we tend to exclude those groups of persons from the communication process even though their health is the subject matter. However, it is best to include them. 

You can start out by asking them what they think of what the doctor has said or if they have any questions to ask. This fosters trust and helps the patient to feel valued and a part of the team. When this happens, they are more likely to share information with you or the doctor that only they know, like something neither you nor the doctor can observe or tests can reveal. Getting this information will no doubt help to improve their care. 

We can begin to emphasize how essential efficient communication between you and your doctor is to your overall health and care. Communication can clarify misunderstandings, prevent errors, and reveal new and useful information. So the next time you have an appointment, write a list, this makes it easier for you to communicate. Don’t be embarrassed, your doctor is more interested in caring for you. Pay attention, everything your doctor says is important, use this opportunity to get answers for whatever you don’t understand. Also, remember to share every change that occurs in your condition, no matter how minute it may seem. Lastly, don’t allow the actual patient to go unheard. It doesn’t matter what their status is, always give them the opportunity to share information or ask questions. Communication is key!

Track your Symptoms

Want to track questions and symptoms for your doctor? Use our FREE app

Download Now