Having a good conversation with your doctor can be vitally important to you and your health. It’s good for your health to have mutual trust, communica-tion, and understanding. In an analysis of 13 studies in the journal PLOS ONE found that people with conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and asthma did better when they worked together with their doctors. So how do you build a good relationship with your doctor? In the AARP Bulletin, Nissa Simon has some great ideas from top doctors.
Electronic medical records, the digital version of a handwritten chart, have become the new normal at office visits. Unfortunately, some doctors spend more time gazing at the computer screen than looking at you. If you talk to your doctor's back and he answers as he types, both you and he lose an important part of the relationship. If your doctor is too involved with the screen, try saying, "I'd feel more comfortable if you looked at me while we talked."
Generally, your doctor will take the first step in building rapport, but you may need to take on some of the responsibility for strengthening the relationship. The more you and your doctor relate to each other on a personal level, the more satisfied you'll both be. And that's healthier for you, too.
Ask for what you need
If you raise a question about your illness that stymies your doctor, don't just let the matter drop. Speak up. Ask if she can follow up and find the answer or if she'd rather refer you to a doctor who routinely deals with this problem. It's a reasonable request and it's better for both of you that you propose it rather than leave the office feeling annoyed.
How can I reach you?
Getting in touch with your doctor between appointments can be frustrating, so find out which method works best if you must reach her about something important. Does she prefer email, leaving a message with her nurse, or voice mail? Does she answer calls during her lunch break or after office hours? Does she routinely pick up messages from her answering service? If you use the method she likes best, you're more likely to be in touch with her sooner rather than later.
Start with your main concern
Start the conversation at your next appointment with the problem that concerns you most, rather than listing all of them at once. For openers, say, "I'm really worried about (fill in the blank) and I'd like to know what you think." If you haven't covered all your concerns and time is running short, ask your doctor if he'd like to hear the rest now or prefer to follow up by phone. That way, your doctor will know that you have unanswered questions and the two of you can decide on the best way to handle them.
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