Here are some ways to make talking to your doctor easier
When you go to the doctor’s office, you want to have your concerns heard. Unfortunately, many people walk away from a doctor’s appointment feeling rushed and confused about their treatment plan. About 25 percent of Americans say they don’t follow their doctor’s advice, many of them because they felt the instructions were difficult.
People—doctors included—can be poor communicators, and bad communication in a healthcare setting can put you at risk. It is important to communicate effectively with your doctor to ensure that you get the best care possible. Here are some tips to help you talk to your doctor.
Don’t skimp on the details
Your doctors need all the information they can get to make a correct diagnosis and decide on the best treatment plan. Tell your physician everything you can about what is going on, even if some of the details seem insignificant or embarrassing. A doctor’s office can be an intimidating place, so write down your concerns before your visit to help you remember everything you need to say. Keep track of all your symptoms; you’ll be able to provide important details when they matter most.
Bring someone you trust
Take someone with you to the doctor’s office to make sure your needs are met. A friend, family member, or caregiver can help both the patient and doctor communicate effectively. They may remember details about symptoms that the patient neglected to mention. Some moral support could give you the confidence you need to communicate and have your concerns addressed. They can also help the doctor communicate with the patient and write down information about care instructions.
“Bringing a trusted person to a doctor’s appointment can help a patient advocate for themselves,” says Dan Bushnell, administrator for Gramercy Court Assisted Living. “This can be especially helpful for elderly people who may have a hard time remembering concerns they have and doctor’s instructions that they need to follow.”
Ask questions, and don’t feel rushed
It’s not uncommon to feel rushed in a doctor’s office, but you should not feel that the appointment is going too quickly for you to ask the doctor everything you need to. Your doctor may move through the appointment more quickly if it seems you do not have questions. However, if you make it clear that you have questions or don’t understand what the doctor is telling you, they will take the time to answer you and address your concerns. If you have questions, ask them. If you feel like you haven’t had enough time with your doctor, ask them to take a few more minutes with you.
Don’t be afraid to talk about costs
The cost of medical services is extremely important to patients and can decide whether or not they seek treatment. Doctors, however, may not know how much certain procedures or medications will cost for individual patients and may prescribe a more expensive option. Talk to your physician about the cost of your treatment and whether there are lower-cost alternatives. They may be able to prescribe a generic medication or lower-cost treatment. Your doctor may also be able to help you work with your insurance company to get a procedure or medication covered.
Talking to your doctor shouldn’t be a difficult task, but when your health is concerned, it can be intimidating. Try these tips to help you communicate better and advocate for yourself with your doctor.
Amy Osmond Cook is the host of Good Day Orange County and the founder of the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers. She is a healthcare consultant and VP of marketing at Simplus, a Platinum Salesforce partner.