5 ways doctors can improve communication with patients

Doctor patient

Doctors and patients can both be bad at communicating with each other.

“Both sides are to blame,” writes Brenda Avadian, executive director of The Caregiver’s Voice, in U.S. News & World Report. “While doctors are under pressure to keep a tight schedule, patients arrive poorly prepared.”

As a patient advocate for almost 20 years, Avadian says she believes insurance companies could save millions of dollars if patients better adhered to their treatment plans. Doctors can better ensure that happens by taking time to talk with patients.

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However, the system makes it hard for doctors to spend time with patients. Here’s her five tips for doctors to improve communication with patients:

  • Review the patient’s health record before stepping into the exam room. Even better, invite the patient to review the notes from the last appointment with you.
  • When you walk in, smile and maintain eye contact with the patient.
  • Give patients an overview of how the appointment will proceed. If you only have 10 minutes, let the patients know and ask if there is anything new they want to talk about.
  • Ask patients about their main concerns. Review any treatment plan from the last appointment.
  • If the patient needs more time, suggest booking a double appointment to allow for a more comprehensive discussion,