Have you been to a doctor’s office, sat on the exam table while the doctor asks you lots of questions? Probably. Did he then ask you if you have any concerns, questions or comments? If not, you’re not receiving optimal healthcare. Allotting you adequate time while listening and supporting you are essential elements of good healthcare.
My own patient experiences in that regard have been pretty interesting, although not unique. I had one physician say he would allow me to ask me questions once he completed his notes. ALLOW? Really? Just a little condescending and disrespectful, don’t you think? I was undeterred. Had my questions/concerns addressed before I left his office. Another brilliant physician, with an extremely heavy patient load, is talking at me, but not with me, never taking the opportunity to ask me if I have issue/problems I’d like to discuss. Simply puts his hand on the exam room doorknob to make his quick escape. Not so fast, my friend.
The above examples and countless stories like them are not the patient experience any of us deserves. Although I fully realize that healthcare is not always exactly the way we would like it to be, with overworked docs/nurse practitioners dealing with emergencies, insurance issues, pharmacy orders, referrals, and on and on. It’s definitely not always easy for healthcare practitioners, of that I’m certain. But, if you’ve been waiting for several hours to see a busy doc, it’s only reasonable to expect he will spend the appropriate time necessary to afford you not just decent care, but true, quality care. As I’ve written previously, showing up with your list of questions and concerns is always a great way to make the best use of your time and his. Help your healthcare provider help you. Everyone benefits. I’ll write another blog explaining in greater detail how to create your very personal list.
The bottom line, though, is you’ve got to ask for what you need. I do and I hope you will too. The squeaky wheel adage holds true in the doc’s office as well as everywhere else. Long before he begins moving toward the door be sure to have your “list” ready and start asking your questions. What’s the sense of going to the doctor if you leave without any more knowledge, medical guidance or peace of mind than you came in with?
My friend’s doctor always scheduled each of his patient’s appointments for fifteen minutes. When her current appointment ended, the doctor asked his scheduler to set up my friend’s next appointment – that very same fifteen minutes time slot. With the doctor standing next to her she quickly spoke up: “That’s not enough time. I need twenty-five minutes.” Did she suprise the doctor? Of course, but he agreed. I’m imagining the standard time for all her future appointments will become twenty-five minutes and she probably won’t need to ask again.
Whether it’s more time in the office, more interactive discussion, more detailed information about test results or prescriptions – ask for it. What’s the best that can happen? You’ll be on the road to becoming an empowered patient receiving quality healthcare. Why settle for anything less.