In my years as a physician, I’ve learned that good communication makes for better health care. The quality of that discourse can influence your health care for the better. Health care should be a conversation between partners; not a monologue.

The healthcare conversation I look for is thoughtful and respectful – a give and take that leads us to address your care as a team. I’m not infallible by any means, the advice I offer is an informed opinion.  And your considered input helps me arrive at that opinion.

Everyone can benefit from building better relationships with their healthcare providers. Here are five tips to help you link up.

1. Get Ready
Come prepared. Make a list of your medications and know something about your medical history and your family’s history. Think about what you want to know. If your primary care doctor refers you to a specialist, ask him or her what to expect and what questions to ask.

2. Three is Not a Crowd
Consider bringing another person to your appointment. There are times when your diagnosis and treatment options can be complex and confusing. Sometimes there’s just a lot of information to digest and two heads are better than one.

 3. Be Informed
Know something about your potential condition. We love it when your questions show you’re engaged in your care. The internet is a good place to turn to for medical information – just be aware it may not be the last word on your particular situation.

4. It’s Fine to Disagree
If you don’t like the answers your doctor gives you, ask more questions. Like I said before; we’re offering an informed opinion. If you aren’t comfortable with the advice you receive, you are always free to get a second opinion.

5. We’re Not Perfect
A little understanding goes a long way. Sometimes doctors may be too busy, too rushed, maybe they’re not communicating well. The truth is your doctors may not be perfect. Keep that in mind when you join the healthcare conversation.

Good patients bring out the best in good doctors. Don’t forget communication is a two-way street; be sure to hold up your end of the healthcare conversation.

Be safe.  Be healthy. Be good to yourself.

The Good Doctor