In a world where people are habitually trying to fit more
responsibility into the same amount of hours--hours during which
they are constantly connected to the world through mobile devices
and other forms of technology--multitasking
and disengagement in the present are becoming more of a new
social norm. But what if this is the case when individuals are
visiting their doctors?
Are you engaged?
As we know, communication is a two way street. How many times
have you found yourself sitting in the doctor's room and either you
or your doctor (or both) have one foot out the door already moving
onto the next agenda item for the day? Or perhaps you just checked
your email on your phone before the doctor came in, and your mind
is engaged on that crucial client email instead of being fully
focused on the information the
doctor is communicating. On the other end, doctors are becoming
more strapped for time as well with their increasingly busy
schedules and sometimes temperamental new technology.
Are you literate on your health?
Not only are time and engagement issues becoming more prominent
in the doctor- patient communication relationship, but awareness
health literacy can also be barriers to ensuring that the
patient fully understands how to best take care of his or her
health. Doctors may explain vital information in a way that makes
sense to them, with years of education in the medical field, but
that explanation may not make sense to the patient who has no such
education or knowledge. Some individuals may not probe the
doctor for further clarification because of intimidation. I've been
guilty of this myself to avoid looking uneducated.
What poor communication means for your
When you're healthy, doctor's appointments may seem rote, but
when you're facing a more challenging diagnosis, effective
communication is critical. For example, kidney disease is an often
misunderstood health issue. People who are at high risk
for kidney disease include individuals with high blood
pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney disease, or who
belong to an ethnic group with high incidences of these health
issues. Say an individual has a physical, and after review, the
doctor determines that everything looks fine outside of high blood
pressure. The doctor and patient communicate efforts to manage
blood pressure--important information to be sure because high
blood pressure can cause a host of health problems. But what might
be missed is this conversation with a patient at risk for kidney
disease is what else the patient can do to avoid developing kidney
disease, since they are now at a higher risk because of the high
blood pressure. Are all patients informed that their high blood
pressure also puts them at a higher risk for developing kidney
disease? Are doctors mentioning it and offering measures to prevent
the development of kidney disease?
Be the number one advocate for your health
Next time you visit the doctor, make sure you allow enough time
to be there and be fully engaged in what the doctor is saying.
Discuss with the doctor all possible effects that may come from any
health issue or concern. And if you don't understand something,
make sure to ask the doctor to explain. The pace of life may be
fast, but that's the point. Life is too short to overlook important
health concerns. Slow down and ask questions. If you feel like
you're being rushed by the doctor or don't understand something,
speak up! Don't be embarrassed; your health is worth it!