One of the changes I have observed in field of medicine over the last thirty years is the increasing importance of good communication between patients and physicians. While lab tests and x-rays can tell a physician a great deal about my body, no one but me knows how I feel and what symptoms I am experiencing.
A physician needs to integrate the hard clinical data he or she has with what I am experiencing in order to understand the total picture of my medical condition. But while this movement toward better communication has been occurring, economic pressures have been increasingly working against better communication by limiting the time my physician has to spend with me during an office visit.
I have found that the best way to counter the pressure of limited time is to “Be Prepared” when you go to your doctor. Before I go to my appointment I make a list of all the things I want to discuss with him. With my list I include information such as my body’s response to medications, symptoms I have experienced, and when I experienced them. I find it works best for me to print two copies of this information- one for the physician and one for me. During the office visit he and I go over my list. By writing it down I have had to think about exactly what I want to tell him, and I am less likely to forget something I wanted to ask about and I’m also less likely to ramble. The result is better communication within the limited time of an office visit.
Personally, I think physicians appreciate this approach. The physician can feel good about answering all my concerns, while maintaining the efficiency he or she needs to see patients in a timely fashion. If you have not tried this before, try it for your next doctor’s appointment. I believe both you and your physician will find that it enhances communication and, therefore, results in better care.
John W. Reese, M.S., CDP
Elder Care Coordinator