With all the pressures on physicians in modern-day medicine to see more patients in a short amount of time and do more electronic medical charting, I can understand why patients are feeling like some doctors are rushed and not approachable anymore.
In my specialty, I encounter many individuals in acute and chronic pain from sports injuries or arthritis and many patients have a list of questions they want to ask. I get it. If it was me or my family member or close friend, I would want that doctor to be friendly and make me and others feel at ease.
Everyone should feel comfortable asking their doctor questions as well as reaching out to explore different relief for pain, especially patients facing constant pain with rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases.
I’m not perfect and I’m sure I get it wrong on some days but this is what I do to help create a wonderful patient experience!
1) When I walk through the door, I introduce myself as the DOCTOR and ask what reason prompted that individual to seek medical attention. Usually, I get a comment about how young I look which does break the ice
2) I do my best to always start off with a smile to create a positive atmosphere.
3) Eye contact is very important especially in the first few minutes. Sometimes I do have to type or place orders on the computer but I ask and discuss with the patient if he or she is comfortable with that.
4) I often do take written notes as the patient is talking and most individuals feel like I’m listening and not going to forget important medical history details.
5) I have diagrams and pictures of the musculoskeletal system on the walls so patients can visualize where the problem is when speaking about a diagnosis.
6) I will do a FULL physical examination even if a specific part of the body or joint is involved and explain what other signs I may be looking for. It makes the patient feel that I’m invested in their “whole health”.
7) Most of the time, I will print out handouts from the American College of Rheumatology which has patient-friendly brochures of illnesses and medications.
8) I let the patient think about the different options for medications for a condition ( if not urgent) and schedule a return visit to discuss questions before initiating the treatment. The patient doesn’t feel pressure!
9) I end the visit by asking if the patient has any additional questions or concerns.
10) I’ll be honest and sometimes the individual may want additional time and if it is possible, I’ll try my best to accommodate but I may set up a phone meeting to address additional questions. I don’t like email.
Disclaimer: This blog contains my personal opinion based on personal and clinical experience, tips from trainers, health coaches and lastly research. This blog does not endorse specific treatments, procedures, products. You should always consult with a doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to discuss your own health and lifestyle goals and regimen based on your medical history. Thank you for reading!