I asked the community-at-large for their opinions on their interactions with medical providers. The survey showed me what I expected – that most people consider communication between doctor and patient to be very important, yet most patients report they have been rushed during a medical appointment and have at left a doctor’s office, at least one time, without all of their questions and concerns addressed. (It’s not too late to participate in this very quick survey – I’d love your input!)
This blog post is part 1 of a two part series – part 2: comments from survey participants.
I have frequently extolled the virtues of good communication between doctors and patients on this blog. Clearly, everyone agrees. Ninety-seven percent of respondents reported that they think the communication between doctor and patient is very impactful on patient experience and care.
Studies have shown that effective communication between the patient, and family caregiver and doctor leads to more appropriate medical decisions, better adherence to treatment plans and better health outcomes. Conversely, research has found that patients less involved in their care are more likely to experience a medical error in diagnosis or treatment plans, and have poor care coordination.
Time Pressures of Medical Appointments
A resounding 84% of respondents stated they have felt rushed during a medical appointment. I know I have, and it can be unnerving as well as annoying.
Why is this so common? Doctors, and other medical professionals, are generally held to tight standard reimbursements by the insurance industry. In the current fee-for-service model, many doctors have to see 24-25+ patients/day to maintain their salary. Therefore, doctors only allot 15-20 minutes for each patient, which translates to only 8-12 minutes of “face time” per patient. Look for a doctor who gives you all the time you need; but realize this often means more time in the waiting room as your doctor gives other patients extra time as well. A worthwhile trade-off in my opinion. Importantly, be respectful – don’t waste your doctor’s time.
Patients’ Concerns Not Always Being Addressed
It is not great news to see that 72% of respondents have left medical appointments without their questions or concerns adequately addressed. Obviously this can impact a patient’s health and healthcare.
Doctors can be intimidating. However, you need to force yourself to make sure your doctor addresses all of your questions and concerns. Don’t be afraid to politely ask clarifying questions and to ask doctors to repeat their responses. If you get home and realize you have more questions, call or email your doctor. If needed, make a follow-up appointment. You deserve to be fully informed. Your life might depend on it.
What can you do?
It is important to plan ahead for and actively participate in every medical appointment. Strive to communicate effectively with your doctors so you can get the most out of your medical appointments, even during time limited appointments. For tips, read our blog posts: 6 steps to be more engaged in your care and 10 tips for a better medical appointment.
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