Crystal, Clear Communication: How to Talk to Your Doctor and Be Heard
Are you withholding vital information when you talk to your doctor? Don't! Here's how to communicate better, so you are heard and treated well.
Research shows that more than 81% of Americans communicated with a healthcare professional last year.
Did you schedule an appointment or two yourself?
While we all show up expecting answers, relief, and reassurance, the reality is that it's common to walk away from a doctor's visit feeling unheard.
In fact, only 23% of patients make it all the way through their conversation opener, with most getting interrupted within 18 seconds.
To prevent this communication breakdown, we're sharing a few ways you can talk to your doctor and get your message across.
Ready to learn more? Let's get started!
Don't show up to the doctor's office with a vague explanation of your symptoms and zero questions. While there are some illnesses that are more difficult to pinpoint, it's best if you come prepared.
Write down your specific ailments, along with a list of at least five questions. This way, you can cut right to the point and maximize the limited amount of time you have to speak.
Keep in mind that doctors are busy, stressed and multi-tasking. Order your questions by priority, understanding that you may not be able to get through the entire list.
Be Flexible with Communication
You don't have to schedule a 30-minute, in-person visit every time you have a question for your doctor.
Now, there are telemedicine tools that make it possible for you to connect in seconds to a healthcare provider. You can hold a video chat, send an email through a patient portal, and more. Some physicians will even communicate over text.
If you're flexible with your expectations and meet your doctors where they are, you're more likely to get their full attention.
Bring Someone Along
Especially if you're older, dealing with a complex health issue or lack strong communication skills, bring someone along to advocate for your care.
This person can keep the conversation on track, take notes, and serve as a second pair of ears to ensure that the doctor answers any questions you ask.
Don't Be Shy
Serious illnesses go undiagnosed every day because patients are too embarrassed or ashamed to share details. This is especially the case with concerns around mental and sexual health.
Understand that your doctor has seen it all and is difficult to phase. Also, keep in mind that you aren't alone, despite how isolating your condition might feel.
Take your digestive health, for example. Constipation, diarrhea and bloating may not be the most pleasant symptoms to talk about, but an unhealthy gut is a common problem that nearly two out of every three Americans share.
Talk to Your Doctor and Get Answers
Some of the most important conversations you'll ever have will take place in a medical setting.
You don't have all day to wax poetic on your health, so make sure to keep the dialogue clear and concise. If you talk to your doctor and still feel rushed or sense impatience, don't hesitate to switch providers.
Looking for other helpful lifestyle tips you can trust? Keep reading for more practical advice on how to live, work, and play.