How To Be Heard At The Doctors; Patient Voice Matters

How To Be Heard At The Doctors; Patient Voice Matters

The effectiveness of in-clinic, or virtually these days, visits to your doctor rests in your ability as a patient to make your doctor LISTEN and HEAR YOU. Research shows that on average, your doctor will spend about 11 to 15 minutes with you.  Within this short time, here are 3 steps you can take to maximum the effectiveness of your consult.

1. RECOGNISE WHAT YOUR ARE UP AGAINST

In the short period that you have with your doctor, he or she would want to know the location of pain and discomfort. Because the effects for AL and TTR amyloidosis are multi systemic, explaining how you feel with a few words is a challenge. Before you can finish describing your situation, the doctor would often need to interrupt to seek clarification.

Compounded to this ‘un-ideal’ situation, your doctor is also having to read your medical folder (which has now become a permanent 3rd party to your consultation) on his or her computer; reading, scrolling and searching for added details all the while trying to listen to what you are saying.

This multi tasking while staying engaged can easily drown out your patient voice particularly if you are not intentional in what you are saying. Many general practitioners will opt for writing you prescriptions rather than spend 10 minutes giving their undivided attention to actively listen undistracted. Concluding the session with a script for medication is a simpler option compared to giving time providing valuable advice on managing symptoms or even more so for them to ask ‘unscripted’ questions. Doing this may lead you to go off topic. Time is of essence and with other patients waiting, it can be a challenge for doctors to allocate quality time to their patients. This makes it doubly hard for patients suffering from rare conditions such as amyloidosis. When effective listening and communicating are not done, misdiagnosis happens, wrong medication given and patients undergo tests that they do not necessarily need.

2. ANTICIPATE YOUR EXPERIENCE

 Before making your appointment, you need to PREPARE. Know and understand your audience, which in this case is your doctor. Your agenda is NOT the same as your doctor’s agenda. To be prepared,

  • IDENTIFY YOUR TOP NUMBER ONE CONCERN; Write down a list of what is bothering you and bring it to the appointment. Then get the doctor to run through the list with you and help you prioritise what needs to be looked at and attended to first.
  • FOR EACH CONCERN, have specific questions.
  • ANTICIPATE the answers the doctor will give, then prepare follow-up questions.
  • IF TIME RUNS OUT, schedule another appointment. USE YOUR VOICE.
  • IF UNABLE, ask to correspond via email.

3. AMPLIFY YOUR VOICE WITH A STORY

There are a few reasons why patients are not able to receive the needed support through their relying of information. As a patient, if you feel that your needs are not being met by your healthcare practitioner, you possibly fall into the following category:

  1. The magnitude of your condition overwhelms you and hinders you from fully explaining your issues to the doctor.
  2. You are too afraid to ask or embarrassed to explain how you truly feel and what you are experiencing.
  3. You are a chronic ‘non-complainer’ and this trait prevent you from asking the needed and appropriate questions.

If you see yourself in any of the above, bring someone else with you to your appointment that can give you voice. Raise the level of expectations and you will find that your doctor will respond in kind. Doctors are human beings after all and they need to know what matters to you in order to be aware and empathise.

TELL YOUR STORY; something pertaining to your condition that is memorable when told, informative when spoken and reverting when heard.

YOUR VOICE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT AND POWERFUL DIAGNOSTIC TOOL FOR YOU TO GET HEALTHY AND STAY WELL – Stacey Lee (TEDx Talks)

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