| Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

4 Simple Steps to a Successful Doctor Visit

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

doctor visitMost adults base their decisions on a mix of new information and existing beliefs. These beliefs arise from past experiences, prior knowledge and personal values. New information must be compelling enough to alter existing beliefs. Otherwise, there is no motivation to make any changes based on the information.

What does this have to do with successful doctor visits?

Well, have you ever left the exam room and decided you would not follow the treatment plan or advice your doctor gave you? Or maybe you didn’t make a conscious decision, but simply let the doctor’s words quietly fade away without taking any action.

If you’ve had this experience, then it’s likely that you, or your doctor or both of you were missing something in the encounter. As Paul Newman famously says in the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” you and your doctor had a “failure to communicate.”

Like any relationship, the one between patient and doctor is a two-way street. Both you and your doctor are responsible for creating a successful relationship. Here are 4 simple steps you can take that may help you hold up your end of the bargain.

1. Engage in the relationship

Historically, the patient-provider relationship was rather one-sided. You went to the doctor. He (rarely “she”) gave a diagnosis and told you what to do. You left and followed orders. In the new model, doctors focus on treating the person—not the disease—and share decision-making with their patients. This means that you, as a patient, are a full participant in the relationship. You work with your doctor to make sure your needs are understood, to understand your doctor’s recommendations and to reach an agreement on your health care plan. It should be noted that your agreement with your doctor could be that you prefer the historical model!

2. Know what’s most important to you

Your doctor’s job is to provide care based on your personal situation and needs. That doesn’t always mean pursuing the most current treatment or shooting for the most optimal health goals. It could mean this, but it might not. Share your health beliefs, values and desires so your doctor can consider them when making recommendations. The information you provide could help your doctor think beyond the standard care guidelines.

3. Speak up, ask questions and be honest

Your doctor needs to know how you feel, what you think about your health and what your lifestyle is. The more complete and honest information you give, the better your doctor’s ability to provide you with personalized health care. Spend time before each visit to write down the things you want to discuss or ask—and take your list with you! During the visit, jot down anything else that arises so you can follow-up. Your doctor will probably appreciate that you came prepared.

4. Listen and keep an open mind

Listening may be the most important thing in any relationship, including one between patient and doctor. You go to a doctor to benefit from their knowledge, experience and expertise. Hopefully, these are the things you looked at when choosing a doctor. After all that, why would you not listen and consider what your doctor tells you? This doesn’t mean that you accept what you hear without question. It only asks that you hear it without predetermined judgment. If you have more questions, ask. You never know what you might learn that could improve your health and well-being.

If you are not satisfied with the care you receive or with the effort that your doctor is making, by all means, look for a new doctor. But before you make a switch, make sure that you have done your part to create a successful relationship. Remember, it takes two.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Video – Finding the Right Doctor: Learn how to be the head coach of your health care team.

Medicare & You: Get the U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook.

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