Building a Relationship with Your Doctor

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Even if you only see your primary care provider once a year, establishing a strong relationship with them over time can lead to better health.

Overlake primary care provider Olabode Akinsanya, MD shares tips on ways to make the most of your appointment, how to better communicate with your provider and what to do when you don’t feel connected.

How can I prepare for my visit?

Make a list of your complaints, then identify the ones that are most important to you on your list. Providers can be faced with unexpected complex health problems or emergencies, which may make him/her run behind schedule. Plan to arrive early and have a cushion around your schedule in case your provider is running late so you don’t have to hurry the visit or leave without being seen.

What are some tips to keep communication lines open?

Have an open mind. Occasionally, patients have an unshakable belief about what the problem is and are not open to other possibilities.

Lay bare your concerns and answer questions asked by your provider. Discuss any research you’ve done on your own. That way, your provider will be able to tailor the visit to address your underlying concerns.

I don't feel connected with my provider. How can this be improved?

Identify why you are not connecting. Communication is the foundation of any good relationship. Give your provider feedback about what went right in your encounters and where you see areas of improvement.

What if I think of more questions after my appointment?  

The urgency of the message/concern will determine the best way to reach out. Call 911 if the situation is life-threatening. If your question is not life-threatening but concerning, I recommend calling  your provider’s office. MyChart is for non-urgent medical questions, turnaround time is usually about 24 hours. Keep MyChart messages brief and concise.

Do I need to come in more often if I have a chronic condition?

It depends on the condition, and frequency is determined on a case-by-case basis. During the initial phase of diagnosis, patients may need to come in often for ongoing evaluations and monitoring, treatment response and medication dosage until our goal achieved. Frequency of visits may be decreased afterward. In some cases, some chronic conditions have recommended follow-up intervals. For instance, someone on medication for attention deficit disorder will need to come in once every three months to renew their prescriptions. Patients on HIV medicines will need to get blood work every three months. Those with high blood pressure or diabetes that has been well controlled for years may need to be seen every six months, but more frequently if the condition is not under control.

I don’t have a primary care provider. How can I choose one? 

Ask your friends and family; word of mouth is a good start. Looking up the provider’s online profile can give you an idea of their care philosophy, and you can assess if they align with your needs. Online reviews may be helpful, but be sure to exercise caution when reading them as more dissatisfied people may leave reviews than those who were satisfied.

Regular checkups with a primary care provider can help you prevent medical problems and manage chronic conditions. Schedule an appointment with a primary care provider today.

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