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How to Develop a Strong Patient-Doctor Relationship

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How to Develop a Strong Patient-Doctor Relationship

Make an Appointment Early

A doctor's schedule can be off if there is an emergency. The earlier in the day you make your appointment, the less likely you are to be affected by schedule changes. If your doctor is running late, you should be given an update or estimate of his or her arrival.

Talk to Office Staff

It can be frustrating to wait until you speak with your doctor to get simple health care questions. Ask a nurse or other members of your doctor's patient-care team about routine questions you have.

Clear Communication

  • The typical time with a doctor is only 15 minutes. Be sure to maximize that time, focus on your history to avoid going on tangents.
  • Provide accurate details about your condition and your medication habits. If you haven't been taking your medication as prescribed be honest and say why.
  • You'll need to decide how much you want to know. Some people want to know the details, while others may not. Be sure to let your doctor know how little or how much information you want to know.
  • Educate Yourself: Your doctor wants to hear about your conditions and concerns; the more you know about the condition the more effective your conversations.
  • Come prepared to give your doctor details on what you have been experiencing.
    • Give details on what has been happening to you. When did it begin?
    • Describe how you feel when it happens
    • Explain how you are handling the situation
  • Your doctor welcomes your comments. Being honest and sharing complete information helps your doctor evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment plan. You both have a responsibility for your care.

Next Steps

Before you leave, make sure you know what you are supposed to do next.

  • When are you due back? Are you supposed to call?
  • What routine screenings come up next?
  • Don't leave the doctor's office unclear about what happens next. Otherwise, you'll be making follow-up calls to the office.


If you travel outside of the US, be sure to let your doctor know, particularly if you are going to formerly remote places like Africa and Asia. This information can become key if you come down with 'flu-like' symptoms.

Bring a Family Member or Friend

If you think you might have a hard time remembering or understanding your doctor's recommendations, bring someone along. And be sure to take notes. Because of patient confidentiality, it may not be appropriate for your companion to ask for confidential information on a follow-up call, unless you give the doctor permission to do so.

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