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How to Talk So Your Doctor Will Listen
From:
Jerry Cahn, Ph.D., J.D. --  Age Brilliantly Jerry Cahn, Ph.D., J.D. -- Age Brilliantly
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York , NY
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

 
How to Talk So Your Doctor Will Listen

You should be able to trust and rely on your doctor. However, in this new digital age, many people are having a lot of trouble connecting with their health care providers. Before computers and iPads showed up in exam rooms, doctors and nurses took notes on paper. With this new advent of technology, a lot of patients are reporting their doctors focusing on the computer screen and typing on the computer rather than making eye contact and “listening.." This can feel very impersonal, which is a bad thing when you’re discussing very personal health issues or questions.

How do you talk to your doctor in our digital world? These tips, tricks and reminders can help:

  • Why They’re Typing – It might make you feel better to remember that your doctor or nurse is typing away because he or she is transcribing what you’re saying. While this isn’t always the case, your doctor might be focusing even more on what you’re saying by looking at the computer. It’s also important to remember that doctors and nurses had to break eye contact to write notes with a pen and paper, too.
  • Verbally Check In – There is no shame in feeling that the above isn’t enough reassurance. If you need to, verbally check in with your doctor by asking questions like, “What do you think? Have you heard of this before? Does that make sense?." These questions are more likely to inspire the doctor to respond, and in doing so, look up to make eye contact.
  • Be Prepared – Who hasn’t gone into the doctor’s office with tons of questions and promptly forgotten them once the doctor walks in? This is all too common. To make the most of your often limited time with your doctor, try to think up questions ahead of time and write them down. If you have a lot, try to list them in order of priority.
  • One Thing At a Time – It’s also important to try and address one issue at a time. The unfortunate reality is that doctors are very busy and see a lot of patients. Therefore, it’s much easier for them to think about one problem at once then hold all of the issues in their mind.
  • The Scribe is An Extension – It’s becoming more and more common for doctors to employ scribes to help them keep track of information during visits. This practice may feel uncomfortable for some people, as they don’t want to discuss personal matters in front of this extra person. However, its important to remember that not only do these scribes fall under the same privacy laws as the doctors, but they allow the doctor to focus more on speaking with you and less on writing.
  • Speak Up – That being said, if there an issue you are only comfortable talking about with your physician, there is nothing wrong with asking if the scribe can step out of the room. It’s your health and your experience, so there is nothing wrong with asking for what you want.

At the end of the day, your doctor’s visit is just that, your doctor’s visit. If you try these tips and you still aren’t comfortable with your experience, it might be time for a new doctor. You can start looking on websites like Medicare.gov to compare physicians.

Do you have trouble connecting with your doctor? Tell us your experience in the comment section. Keep coming back for more helpful articles.

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