How to Maintain a Successful Relationship With Your Physician (and know when it’s time to let go)

By Annette Ticoras, MD, BCPA 

The relationship between you and your physician is an important one. Establishing trust and open communication can be the difference between preventative measures and a serious health crisis.

Most physicians genuinely care about their patients and make every effort to provide quality care. And some patients feel heard and validated by their doctor despite increasing pressure from insurance companies, technology challenges (which is supposed to streamline processes but can sometimes cause more problems), and time constraints. But some patients feel that’s not the case with their doctor. 

A growing number of patients feel like their doctor has one foot out the door, is hardly listening, and doesn’t take their concerns seriously. Livestrong.com recently interviewed me for two articles, one addressing this trending concern and another about when to switch doctors. 

If you’re among those who feel like your doctor is consistently dismissing your concerns, there are a few things you can do to take charge of the situation:

Proactively bring your physician up to speed. A medical record can be an overwhelming stockpile of historical data. If your doctor hasn’t had a chance to digest and process all the information, they may seem distant or distracted. At your appointment, provide your doctor with a verbal snapshot of the most current information – your meds, diagnoses, and recent tests results relative to your issue.

A growing number of patients feel like their doctor has one foot out the door, is hardly listening, and doesn’t take their concerns seriously.

Be specific about your problem. Give helpful details about where/when you have your issue and how it affects your life. Report remedies you’ve tried and whether or not they’ve worked.

Bring someone with you. Whether it’s a spouse, adult child, or a patient advocate, having another person in the exam room can motivate your doctor to focus their attention on you. The other person also serves as a backup if you forget to ask a question or can’t remember all the information.

If you still feel like your doctor is not listening, it might be time to make a switch. But not before you do the following:

Ask all the questions you have. You have a right to understand your treatment, options, and outcomes. If your doctor is not transparent with you, it’s a red flag.

Reflect on customer service and office policies. Are the nurses or office staff rude or impatient? Does it take weeks to schedule a sick visit? If so, these may be signs it’s time to let go.

Be honest about your habits. Do your part. If you’ve not followed a prescribed diet or have engaged in unhealthy behaviors, don’t hide it. Your doctor needs that information to best help you. If they shame you, roll their eyes, or lecture, they are not the right doctor for you.

Have another doc lined up. Research and meet with a potential new doctor before firing the old one. Make sure you’ve established a comfort level with them, and they have the bandwidth to add you to the practice.

You’re Not Alone

As a private patient advocate and physician, I understand first-hand how important good communication is with your doctor.centers around clearing the way for open, honest communication and facilitating a trusted partnership between you and your physician. 

As patient advocates, we ensure your questions are answered, you understand your treatment options, and you feel heard and supported. 

With good planning and communication, you can avoid confusion and stress and have a strong and trusted relationship with your doctor for years to come.

Do you need help establishing a successful relationship with your physician? CONTACT US. We can help. 

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