To get good care, think like a doctor
Doctors want to give you the best care they possibly can, but often, they can only do that if they get help from you. To be a better partner with your physician, you need to know how they work. Organizing and sharing your health background may be intimidating, but it’s worth the trouble, according to Dr. Alan Ettinger, neurologist and author of The Essential Patient Handbook.
To get the best results, it’s important to know how doctors think, what they’re looking for during an exam and how they solve problems, Dr. Ettinger says. “If you understand that, you’re much better equipped to then ask the important questions that improve your care,” he argues.
So, how should you talk to your doctor? Some of Dr. Ettinger’s suggestions:
- Think ahead: Before you see the doctor, ask yourself what the main issue is, and decide how you’ll explain it.
- Stick to the point: Go straight to the heart of the problem. State your symptoms, how long they’ve been going on, whether there’s a past history of these issues, what seems to induce the symptoms, what makes them better and what makes them worse.
- Bring up key facts first: Avoid the “oh, did I mention” syndrome, in which patients casually mention critical symptoms at the end of a visit.
- Don’t take offense if your doctor interrupts: It may seem rude, but your physician may need to jump on a point quickly so they can get straight to the heart of your problem.
For more information from Dr. Ettinger, check out his podcast here.