Communicating With Healthcare Professionals
By Valerie Parkey, Spectrum Properties, North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine
As the population life expectancy continues to increase, it becomes vital for seniors to maintain good health. Good healthcare depends on the improving communication with providers. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has reported about half of Americans have trouble understanding and using health information.
Cheryl Acres, RN, CCM, a certified geriatric care manager, and an expert on communicating with healthcare professionals, offers the following tips on communicating better with your healthcare providers.
1. Prior to the appointment, make a plan on what needs to be discussed, write questions down.
2. Take any previous test results or actual x-rays with you, if applicable, to the appointment. Take all medications: prescription and over-the-counter.
3. Take careful notes during the appointment. Ask for any booklets and resource materials for additional information that may be helpful in your understanding of your visit.
4. Following the visit, continue to do your homework. Fill your prescriptions. Ask the pharmacist for information on how the medicines can react with other medications you take. Follow up for results of tests.
5. Take an advocate with you to help ask questions, recall information or for emotional support. Make sure the person is trusted, knowledgeable. Consider engaging a geriatric care manager to sort through things, especially if there are several medical conditions or problems, or if your family is not near by or able to go with you.
6. If you feel the doctor is not providing the help you want, either professionally or emotionally, don’t hesitate to ask for another doctor in his or her group or seek another doctor elsewhere.
7. Be sure to thank the doctor and his staff for what they do for you. Everyone wants to be appreciated for what they do.
“Good, clear communication is equally as important as any procedure you may have done by a doctor,” Ms. Acres said. “Good communication results in more positive patient outcomes, better use of doctor and patient time, less stress for the patient and fewer misunderstandings.”
Valerie Parkey, Marketing Director for Meadowstone Place Retirement Community in Dallas, Texas, can be reached at 214-987-0943
Cheryl Acres, RN, CCM, Certified Geriatric Care Manager can be reached at Comprehensive Care Management, LLC 972-446-4789 or Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org.