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Communicating with your Doctors

Posted 5/10/2016

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  It is very important that you are comfortable communicating with your doctor/providers and understand the best way to do so. It is common to have questions or concerns arise between medical appointments, and you need to know how best to reach your doctor, how quickly you can expect an answer, and what kinds of things are acceptable to “discuss” outside of the exam room.

  When I speak with people about choosing a doctor, one question is always to ask how best to reach her. Does your doctor give out her cell phone number and feel comfortable with you using it when there is an urgent issue? Can you depend on the doctor’s admin to pass on a message quickly and to communicate the level of need for a quick reply? Does your doctor do email with patients, use Patient Site, use Twitter or some other kind of social networking? Does your doctor prefer that you call the Nurse Practitioner or Fellow with routine questions?

  There will always be times when the doctor is not immediately available, but it is crucial that you can emergently reach someone 24/7 and that you can reach your doctor when you have a question that only she can answer—understanding that the answer may not come for several hours or longer.

The important point here is that you are clear about the system and feel secure about always being able to get what you need in a timely fashion.

  It should go without saying that you bear some responsibility for being thoughtful about your calls or emails. It is better to send a single communication that includes all your worries than to send a series of emails that may feel overwhelming. It isn’t reasonable to expect to always have an immediate response (that’s what the 24/7 coverage is for) nor to expect your doctor to send you lengthy daily notes.

  This is a good article from Cancer Today about this issue:

Do You Have Questions for Your Health Care Team? - Cancer Today

Your next doctor’s appointment is three weeks away, but you have a few questions about your treatment today. A few years

ago, you would have left a phone message for your doctor or nurse. Now, you can still call—or you can send a message via

email, text, Twitter or a patient portal.

These methods can help you obtain prompt, brief answers to questions, coordinate your care with multiple providers, or notify

a doctor about concerns you wish to discuss at your next appointment. A side benefit: You will have a record of the

information you exchanged.

But using these methods requires clear, to-the-point writing. This is especially true if you are using Twitter direct messaging,

which limits you to 140 characters.

The following tips can help you convey your questions and concerns effectively.


Read more:





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