Can a cartoon help you talk to your healthcare provider

It’s true!  When you have an exam gown on, your mind go blank.  I’ll bet it has happened to you.

You go to your healthcare provider for your annual checkup and when asked how you are doing, you said OK.  Your provider examines you and perhaps you talk about your recent blood work that you had or will have.  You will talk about your blood pressure, is it good or not so good? Blah, blah, blah.

Man is full of doubts and hesitation.

Just as your provider is about to leave, you remember a question you wanted to ask. It might have been one that you have been thinking about for some time, but you either forgot or it didn’t come up in conversation so you decided to bring it up as your doctor has his/her hand on the door.

A few things to think about that you may not be aware of when it comes to your healthcare provider.

First, your provider is generally on a timeline (about 15 minutes per visit or a bit longer for an annual checkup). Unless you have a concierge doctor, they must move quickly.  Your primary or specialty providers have production pressures so he/she may be already mentally and almost physically out of your room and on to the next patient.  They have little time to have the conversation that you just brought up at the end of the visit. So out you go, question or concern not fully answered or resolved.

Communication is key

I like to think of my doctor visit as writing a cartoon. You have three frames to get your point across.

Think in Three Frames

When you do a google search about writing a cartoon, here were a few items that I found useful.

Some points to remember

  1. Forget what you are good at, focus on what the customer wants.
  2. Consider the length, keep it short.
  3. Do the unexpected, surprise your audience.
  4. Communicate effectively, grab attention.
  5. Connect emotionally.
  6. Tell stories.
  7. Be conversational.

Write it down and take it with you

  1. Your three issues or concerns (keep it short)
  2. Any background information you can provide
  3. Give an example

Example (hypothetical): Issue #1: I was playing golf and I began experiencing a pain in my neck and arm. It was a shooting pain. After I sat down, it went away. It has happened one or two times since I have played golf and usually when I am walking or doing physical activity.

Here is what your healthcare provider was hearing.

  1. What was going on – playing golf (activity)
  2. What was the experience – shooting pain in neck and arm (pain, could be cardiac)
  3. How long- relieved after sitting (stopped with rest)
  4. How often – has happened one or two times more (has happened more than one time)

Below is an clip from a magazine that was written by Dr. Danielle Ofri, bestselling author about medicine and the doctor patient relationship. (sorry, I cannot find what magazine it was from). It talks about what you as a patient says and what your physician hears.

What you say… What your doctor hears

Source is from an unknown magazine

That is why clear communication is so important. You also want to repeat back what you doctor said to you to clarify that you both are saying and hearing the same thing. Now you are on the same page!

Sandi Feaster

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