Dr Bret Wilson

Talking With Your Doctor

Talking With Your Doctor

You are concerned about your health and you have scheduled an appointment with a physician.  It may be for a wellness check, a new symptom, or for ongoing treatment of a known condition.  This may be your first visit with the doctor, or a follow up with a trusted provider.  All of these situations require the efficient and clear exchange of information between the doctor and the patient.  Good communication is a two way street and requires the patient to voice symptoms, conditions, concerns and listening to the questions and responses of the doctor.   Clear exchange of information gives the doctor the best chance to arrive at the right course of action to arrive at a diagnosis and provide the proper treatment.

In our current health care system the maximum face to face time a patient has with a doctor is 15 minutes.  A short period of time to talk with the doctor, review your history, be examined, diagnosed and determine treatment.  The efficient use of this time is important to patent and provider.

Preparation ahead of time can make a difference.    Prior to your face to face time with the doctor gather your pertinent information and have it available for you and your doctor.  There will be forms to fill out that can be done ahead of time and can help give guidance to the information needed for your visit.  Common information needed is the reason for the appointment, current symptoms or conditions for which you are seeking care, past history of the condition, other doctors and tests you have received, medication lists.  This information should be reviewed and prepared ahead of your appointment.  It is often difficult to provide this information from memory, sitting with a clip board in a doctor’s office.  Requesting the forms ahead of time can help you provide accurate information because you can gather the information at home prior to the visit.  A good idea is to keep a medical history at home that is updated as new information and changes occur.  Then the information can be reviewed and updated for the current situation.

At the time of your visit, the patient is typically given a few minutes to state the reason they are seeing the doctor.  This is followed by some relevant questions from the doctor about the conditions.  Taking some time before the visit to think about what you will say, can help keep the visit on track.  As the doctor asks questions, listen attentively and try to answer them briefly, directly and honestly.  This enables you to provide the doctor with the best and most relevant information.  Preparing ahead of time allows you to focus on the current symptom or condition and not get flustered trying to remember details of your health history.  Health history is important, but if prepared ahead of time, can be reviewed more quickly and efficiently by the doctor.  This allows the doctor and patient to focus on the primary reason for the encounter.

Taking a family member or friend with you to the appointment can help.  This is especially true if there is disability or illness that impairs communication or comprehension.  The other person can help with communication and understanding treatment options to help the doctor and patient to get better information.

Follow up can be important if you need more explanation, have questions or perhaps remember more pertinent information.  This can often be handled with a discussion with a nurse or assistant.  A follow up phone call or use of email can help.  Many physicians are now using electronic health records and these include a patient portal, a secure online website that gives patients convenient to personal health information and communication with doctors and hospitals.  A follow-up appointment may be necessary to get all questions answered.

The best doctor patient relationships are built of teamwork and rapport.  The ability to gather and receive information helps get the best understanding of the needs of the patient and the options for care.  The patient is response able with some forethought, preparation and clear communication to get the most from your healthcare.


Yours in Health,


Dr. Bret Wilson

Dr Bret Wilson wants you to move, play and live free from neck and back pain.  For more information about chiropractic, posture, exercise, and how to make better choices about your health visit our website www.bellwestchiro.com.  Find a chiropractor in your area to help you with safe and effective health care.  http://www.acatoday.org/Find-a-Doctor

For more information:

Tips for Talking to Your Doctor

Clear Communication with Your Doctor

How to Get Your Doctor to Listen

Consumer Reports, How to Talk to Your Doctor