Patients often complain about their lack of satisfaction after leaving the hospital. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found out that only 23% of patients get to finish fully explaining their concerns during a doctor’s visit without being interrupted by the doctor.
This kind of disconnect in communication between doctors and patients who visit the consulting room can have a significant impact on healthcare delivery to the patient.
Issues like missed diagnosis and misdiagnosis of diseases can occur. Problems that could have been easily picked up during a conversation are often missed, because the patient gets interrupted when talking about their symptoms.
In many hospitals today around the world, doctors attend to about 50 or more patients a day in the consulting room. Some doctors may even need to attend to other patients on admission and sometimes be part of some hospital administrative meetings.
The doctor also has to ensure that he records all the points of your visit in the patient’s folder or computer. In addition to a lack of time, doctors face other barriers to good communication, including:
- Medical jargon that is often misunderstood by their patients.
- A general lack of, or perhaps a breakdown of, simple communication skills, including picking up nonverbal cues.
- Fear of being sued by their patients.
- Avoidance of emotional and social issues.
- Cultural barriers between doctors and their patients.
- Feeling confrontational after resistance or questioning by some of their patients.
It is important you understand these factors from your doctor’s perspective. This will help you know what you can do as a patient to ensure that you get the best out of your visit to your doctor – irrespective of the limited time.
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So now, back to our discussion:
How To Properly Prepare For A Doctor’s Visit
As a patient, there are things you can do to foster effective communication between you and your doctor during your hospital visit. Doctors are continually trying to take steps to improve patient engagement and patient satisfaction.
You can support their effort as a patient by taking the following steps in order to ensure you get the best experience and make the most out of your doctor’s visit :
Book An appointment
Unless it is an emergency or your symptoms are so severe that it cannot wait, booking an appointment is the first step to improving your experience during hospital visit. Find out when the doctor you want to see is going to be available and book an appointment for that day.
You are likely going to be registered in the waiting list for that day which will solve the problem of you not meeting your doctor on seat when you abruptly visit the hospital.
Don’t go to see your doctor unprepared thinking that he will automatically know what is wrong. Prepare yourself very well before your hospital visit. Know what you intend to discuss with your doctor before you arrive. It will help a lot more if you can write down your concerns and questions to guide you when talking; but try to make them very specific.
Prioritize The Major Points
Your doctor may not have the time to answer all your 30 questions. So it is important that you prioritize your questions and concerns in order to get the major ones addressed within the limited time you have with your doctor.
Ask For Clarifications
When your doctor says things perhaps in medical jargon that you don’t understand, ask him to break it down for you. Patients make the mistake of just nodding their heads when the doctor is speaking and go away not understanding the diagnosis and treatment options given by the doctor.
So learn to ask your doctor for further explanations and clarifications you need about his diagnosis and the treatment he is giving you. After all, it is your health and you have the right to know what the doctor is saying about it.
Come Along With a Loved One
This is particularly important if you are dealing with a complicated health concern. If you are elderly and are dealing with a chronic health condition, or if you have issues like dementia and other mental health conditions, it is advisable to visit your doctor with a family member.
They can help take note of all your doctor is saying and perhaps even explain better to your doctor some things concerning your symptoms. The presence of a spouse, family relation or a close friend can provide so much comfort to you in situations of major health challenges.
Ask For Another Appointment
It is possible that the time will not be enough for you to exhaust all your health concerns and questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for another appointment. He may ask you to come back in a few days or week time if you still have more concerns.
Some doctors may even give you their phone numbers to call them if you have further concerns or clarifications. Therefore be bold during your doctor’s visit. He is a person just like you and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for another appointment if he doesn’t propose it himself.
If you learn to work with these few steps, your hospital experience is very likely to improve greatly. Even if you only get to spend 10 to 15 minutes with your doctor, you will be able to take advantage of the limited time and get the best attention and communication from your doctor.