How to Improve Communication in Healthcare

1.

Demand quality. Remember that you are the consumer. As a patient, whether with insurance or not, you are paying for medical services. You deserve to receive adequate care and customer service for what you pay. Be firm and clear when communicating with doctors and medical staff about your health problems and symptoms. Let them know if you are not satisfied with the service you have received.

2.

Ask questions. Many patients leave medical visits feeling confused about their diagnoses and treatments because they are too intimidated or nervous to ask questions. Ask the doctor or medical staff questions if you do not understand something. Make a list of questions that you want to ask before you visit.

3.

Take your time. Many medical offices and hospitals are busy and have many patients. Do not let that make you feel rushed. You have as much of a right to adequate medical care as everyone else. Take the time to have your questions answered and make sure that you understand what your diagnosis and treatment entail.

4.

Bring a friend or relative with you. Many times having a trusted companion with you at a doctor's visit can improve communication. Your friend or relative can help you to understand what the doctor says, remind you of questions to ask, and act as a support system if you are upset or nervous.

5.

Take notes. If you find yourself forgetting what the doctor told you to do, then take notes during your visit or use a tape recorder to record the doctor's instructions. Doing so will allow you to review this information later at home.

6.

Be honest. Tell your doctor about your health habits such as smoking and drinking, even if you are embarrassed or ashamed. It is important that your doctor knows these things in order to diagnose and treat you accurately. Also tell your doctor about any other medications, drugs, or vitamins and supplements you may be taking.

7.

Educate yourself. You are responsible for informing yourself about your health. Take advantage of education materials such as pamphlets and brochures in medical offices. Use the Internet as a tool to find medical information.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you still feel confused after your medical visit, don't hesitate to call the office and ask questions.
  • Be firm and assertive with doctors and medical staff, but never rude or demanding, that will get you nowhere and is disrespectful.
  • Be sure to read all prescription information, instructions, and warnings before taking medication prescribed by your doctor.
  • Be careful when learning about medical information on the internet. Make sure your sources are reputable.
  • Poor communication with health care providers is a common complaint from patients at medical offices and hospitals in the United States.Communication breakdown frustrates patients, doctors, and medical staff alike when inadequate communication leads to administrative and medical errors such as misdiagnosis, patient mix-ups, prescription mistakes, etc. It is also common for patients to leave a doctor's visit feeling confused or uninformed about their diagnoses and treatments due to a lack of communication with their doctor.



    Despite the problem with communication in healthcare, there are steps that patients can take to improve communication with doctors and medical staff.