Take PART with your health care provider

Being prepared, organized and focusing on the issues you want to discuss can help make doctor’s visits more fulfilling.

Communication with your health provider is a very important factor to receiving good health care. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge for many reasons, including time, lack of understanding and embarrassment on behalf of the patient. The book Living a Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions says that one strategy that can help in receiving the most from your doctor visit is to “Take PART.”

Prepare: Before your doctor’s appointment, write a list of concerns or questions. After making the list, put a star next to the two to three items you consider the most important. If possible, give the entire list to your doctor prior to your visit. Bring a list of all the medications, along with the dosage amount you are taking – don’t forget to include vitamins, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and supplements. Be prepared to give your story in a short, clear and concise manner.

Ask: Asking questions about diagnosis, tests, treatments and follow-up is a powerful tool. When you ask questions it reflects that you are an active participant in the process of the care you receive.

Repeat: Repeat to make sure you have clarity – briefly report back to your provider the key points covered during the health care visit. Doing this allows your doctor an opportunity to correct any misunderstanding or miscommunication. Don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t understand something. It may be helpful to take notes or ask another person to be present at important visits.

Take action: Make sure you understand what your next steps are following your visit. This may include treatments, tests and/or a return visit to your doctor. Make sure to contact your doctor if you are unable to follow their advice.

For more information about communicating with your health care provider, Michigan State University Extension recommends the following websites:

http://www.nih.gov/clearcommunication/talktoyourdoctor.htm

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/communicating_with_your_doctor/

http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/navigate-healthcare-system/how-can-i-communicate-effectively

http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/ask-your-doctor/index.html

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