Do you sometimes feel like you could have learned more about your condition, but you were afraid to ask? Good communication is the key to successful relationships, and is essential to maintaining a good relationship with your doctor. By bringing the appropriate information to your follow-up visit and being able to effectively discuss your concerns with your doctor, you will see that your time with the doctor was well spent. A little preparation will allow your doctor to spend more time focusing on you. It will also improve the quality of communication between you and your doctor.

In addition to the steps below, always bring your insurance card and photo ID to reduce your time in the waiting room.

Concentrating on the (4) steps below will help you to develop effective communication with your doctor.

1 Review your list of current medications (Include prescription drugs, over- the-counter medicines and vitamins) before your appointment. Be sure to list the name of each medicine, dosage and number of times you take it each day. Include your Allergies to medications, foods, or other products. When you see your doctor, discuss any side effects of newly prescribed medications. This may include nausea, dizziness, and constipation. Ask questions about the dosage and number of times you are taking the medication if you are experiencing side effects. Also make sure you understand what each medication treats.

2.Prepare a statement describing your primary problem, and be ready to discuss it. In order to ensure that you receive the high-quality medical care and treatment you need for your illnesses and injuries, it is important to be able to talk openly and freely with your doctor. Before you leave home, write one sentence describing the primary reason you want to be seen. In your words, describe the symptoms of the main problem you want evaluated during your appointment. This will help with your discussion with your doctor. It is important to remember that your doctor needs to know personal information about you and your actions and habits in order to properly diagnose and treat your condition.

You need to clearly describe the problems you are experiencing. Ask yourself?   When did my problem start? How often does it occur? What makes it better or worse? If your problem causes pain, describe the pain. For example, merely saying “my back hurts” does not give the doctor enough information to determine your diagnosis. Be specific to better assist your doctor in taking care of your needs.

Doctors want to help you; however, you need to provide specific information to assist the doctor in the process. If you are more functional, after a trial of physical therapy, let the doctor know. If your symptoms have lessened, let the doctor know. Likewise, if you are worse, be sure to provide the specifics.

Enhanced communication starts with your ability to effectively discuss how your treatment has affected you both positively and negatively.

3. Create a concise list of questions. Think about the questions you have for the doctor before you leave home. Ask your questions while the doctor is in the examination room with you. Once the doctor has started examining another patient, it is difficult to return to your examination room.

Creating a question list before you leave home will increase the likelihood that you receive answers to your concerns in a timely manner. The staff can answer general or routine questions while you are waiting on the doctor.

4. Bring a pen and paper. This will allow you to take notes of any advice or information that your doctor gives you. Write down follow-up instructions. Write down your diagnosis, this will allow you to read about your condition on your doctor’s website.

If you want to enhance the communication with your doctor, be sure to concentrate on these four points at your next visit. Developing good communication with your doctor is a process. Each time you go to the doctor, try to improve upon your ability to discuss your condition and concerns. This will lead to more open communication between you. Ultimately, this will help you to develop an enhanced line of communication with your doctor. Each time you return for follow-up visits, continue to update your checklist to ensure that you make the most out of your doctor's visit.

Your Good Health is the mutual goal of the patient and the physician. You have a responsibility to take an active role in your healthcare. Remember, preparation before your follow-up visit can lead to enhanced communication between you and your physician and a better overall experience for you.

Take my advice; if you want more effective communication with your doctor, don’t leave home without reviewing these four (4) communication points. This knowledge will allow you to be better involved in discussions with your health care provider.

The goal of this four-step checklist is to emphasize the points that will help to enhance your communication with your physician. The more you do them, the better you will become.

©2011Winifred D. Bragg, MD All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Winifred D.Bragg, MD is a highly sought after keynote speaker, author and physician whose strategies to succeed are based on her personal experience. She is the CEO of the Spine and Orthopedic Pain Center where she uses state of the art techniques to provide patients with non-surgical solutions to treat orthopedic problems of the upper and lower extremities as well as spinal conditions.

She delivers powerful messages on the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and a commitment to self-improvement as key elements to succeed.