Encouraging Patients to Ask Questions

Imagine this typical scene playing out at your office: one more patient arrives for his or her appointment, the waiting room is overcrowded, and you’re running behind because of emergencies. The staff is stressed because of the delay, and patients are upset since they are waiting longer than anticipated. Each patient probably has half a dozen questions to ask you. The next patient is called and enters the examination room. You walk in, extend your hand, smile, and ask how he or she is feeling before jumping ahead to look at the patient’s chart. You note a few discrepancies in lab results and tell the patient you would like to run a few more tests. Surreptitiously you glance at your phone to check the time and realize the 15 minutes allocated to this patient have expired, and you are falling further behind. You wrap up the visit by reiterating the additional labs and scurry to the next patient, not even realizing that the patient didn’t have a chance to talk to you beyond returning your greeting. ReactDx, the Holter monitoring company, understands your stress level and wants to help you find the time to encourage your patients to ask questions.

For most physicians, patient care is the reason they entered into medicine. But factors beyond their control can cause patient care to fall precipitously down on the list of necessities. In order to make the patient feel heard, work on changing this long-standing habit. instead of greeting your patient and immediately looking at lab values, put the tablet or chart to the side. Greet your patient and ask, “Before we begin, are there any questions you would like to ask?” After asking, wait. Count to 5 slowly. If the patient does not respond, reword the question, and wait 5 more seconds before continuing the exam by looking over lab values.

No one knows their symptoms like the patient; they can give a narrative on what they’re experiencing. By opening up and sharing symptoms that seem unrelated to their immediate concern, you get a better overall picture of their disorder. While it may seem inconsequential to a patient that his digestive system is disrupted and he feels lightheaded, you may find the two are closely joined, and you can more accurately diagnosis him in a shorter amount of time.

Patients want to be involved in their care. The larger a part a patient plays in his or her health care, the more likely that patient will be to follow through on appointments, personal care, and taking medications. When all questions are addressed, incorporate your patient’s concerns with lab results and other pertinent data to extend the ultimate care for that patient. ReactDx’s Holter monitoring is a great method to compare patient notes and concerns with data to correlate findings. Contact ReactDx today at 800-234-3278.

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