You may not think of your relationship with your doctor as a dance, but it is. When you and your physician are in step with one another doctorstipsonline happen. Your doctor listens to you, makes a diagnosis and offers information about your condition and its treatment. You feel free to ask questions, request more information and discuss your treatment options. You respect and satisfy your need to understand your medical condition so you can follow through with the treatment that’s best for you. Together, you and your doctor form a partnership that focuses on your healthcare needs and meets your expectations.
However, when you and your doctor aren’t in step, important questions often go unasked, adequate information is not always forthcoming and alternative options may not be examined. If you and your physician don’t communicate openly and freely, perhaps it’s time to examine what’s keeping the two of you out of step, how this can negatively affect your healthcare and what you can do to change it.
Are You and Your Doctor Out of Step?
You have a responsibility to take an active role in your healthcare. If you don’t know how to do this, you’re not alone. Many people have difficulty seeing themselves as partners when it comes to working with their physicians.
Anxious, fearful or uncertain, some patients don’t share enough information with their doctor. Others rarely ask questions, thinking they “should” do what their physician says, no questions asked. On the opposite end of the spectrum are patients who don’t comply with treatment and have repeat office visits because their condition or symptoms continue to persist. Still others follow their treatment plan in a hit-or-miss fashion. Without understanding the ramifications of not taking medication as prescribed, or failing to following their treatment plan, these individuals put their health in jeopardy. Whatever the reason, patients who are passive partners in their healthcare bear responsibility for being out of step
But many doctors are also out of step. Driven by expectations and constraints from insurance companies, managed care and the overall high cost of healthcare in today’s competitive market, doctors are overwhelmed, tired and frustrated. This takes a hefty toll on their ability to listen to and effectively communicate with each and every patient. In addition to this, most physicians have been trained in a biomedical model and have little or no training from a biopsychosocial perspective. They often don’t consider that how they communicate with patients is at least as important as what they communicate. Doctors who don’t take the time to help patients understand their medical problem and its treatment are out of step with those patients.
All of us have different communication styles. Sometimes they match, but more often they don’t. When communication problems arise between a doctor and patient, the doctor has the opportunity to help the patient become an active partner in their healthcare. This means helping patients get in step with their treatment plan and communicating with them in a way that fosters their success. When this doesn’t happen, both doctor and patient suffer the consequences.