Recently I came upon an article in the March 2011 issue of Consumer Reports “What Doctors wish their patients knew.” Interestingly, the results were a compilation of some 660 primary- care medical providers that responded to an online survey in September 2010 regarding personal professional challenges and how a patient could get the most out of their relationship.
A highlight of survey results and primary- care medical provider recommendations for patients to ensure they receive better healthcare included:
1. Forming a long-term relationship with a primary care medical provider is the most important thing a patient can do to obtain better medical care. Steve Grumbach, M.D. , professor and chair of the department of family and community medicine at UC-San Francisco, confirmed stating “A primary care doctor should be your partner in overall health, not just someone you go to for minor problems or a referral to specialty care.”
2. Being respectful and courteous toward your medical provider and recognizing that respect is a two way street.
3. Complying with advice or treatment recommendations once they have been discussed and agreed upon by both provider and patient.
4. Recognizing that primary care medical providers are harder on themselves than patients were when it came to judging their ability to minimize pain, discomfort or disability caused by a condition.
5. Keeping track of your medical history by compiling an informal log of treatments, drugs, changes in condition, notes from previous doctor visits tests and procedures and bringing this information to your appointment.
6. Taking a friend or relative to your office visit to be a second pair of eyes and ears.
7. Researching your medical condition online was discouraged by primary care medical providers due to a variety of websites that are advertiser funded and designed to guide you to a specific treatment. If you must research, it is better to look at government sites such as those for the CDC, FDA, and National Cancer Institute.
8. Recognizing that the volume of insurance paperwork, financial pressures, and health plan rules and restrictions can interfere with a primary care provider’s ability to provide optimal care. Therefore, it is recommended a patient plan ahead for an appointment by jotting down questions or concerns you might have and prioritizing them.
Increased awareness and implementing these valuable recommendations can make for a better, more productive and healthy outcome for both the provider and patient alike. This will begin to set the patient on a path of achieving and maintaining a lifestyle of holistic health.