Many patients do not realize the vital importance of effective communication with their healthcare provider. Whether it is your primary care physician, an emergency room doctor or a nurse practitioner, your ability to communicate your health issues affects your eventual diagnosis.
However, healthcare professionals are not the easiest people to communicate with because many patients feel confused, rushed, embarrassed, intimidated or simply not heard. Indeed, there have been several recent high-profile incidents where healthcare providers did not listen to their patients, and the results have been tragic. This has led many to wonder how they can more effectively communicate with their Illinois doctors.
Before you see the healthcare provider, prep for the visit. Write down your symptoms, questions and concerns. Prioritize your symptoms and a few of the most important things you need to know. Gather all the information that you may think is relevant as well, like your allergies, medications (including supplements and natural remedies), any prior test results, medical records, etc.
Of course, make sure you understand your health insurance too because you may need to get referrals or pre-authorizations before accepting treatment.
Specific questions include, but are not limited to, what is the diagnosis, what are the risks and benefits to the proposed treatment plan and what are the possible causes of the illness? What are the side effects? Will the treatment plan affect my daily life, and if so, how? Are there potential complications? What are my alternative options or ways to maximize positive outcomes?
Help can be helpful
If you can, bring someone with you to your appointment, like a best friend or family member. This person can provide both emotional support and help ensure that you get the information you need. Plus, they can take notes, give you encouragement and advocate for you, especially if you are not conscious. Though, make sure you are comfortable sharing this information.
If you do not understand something, ask clarifying questions until you do understand. Remember, they are the experts, not you. Make sure you understand all of your options, and do not be afraid to get a second or even a third opinion. If you have concerns or preferences, make sure they are known.