'Dear Dr.' letter can help make the most of appointments

Doctors and patients can make the most of the time they spend together during appointments by being prepared in advance, according to an article in Forbes.

The shrinking time for patient visits is a growing concern for many physicians. It can create physician stress, and compromise the patient relationship. While the Forbes article focuses on what patients can do to make the most of the time they get to spend with their doctor in an appointment, there's some lessons for physicians, too.

For example, doctors can encourage their patients to come prepared to appointments to discuss the medical problems they want addressed. The article suggests practices encourage patients to write a letter to their doctors a day or two before their visit to provide a history of their problem. By doing so, the patient can help the doctor know the exact focus of the visit and formulate additional questions in advance. Physicians can urge patients to give a chronological order of when symptoms started, what makes the symptoms better or worse, and what worries the patient most about their symptoms.

Patients with multiple problems they want to discuss should prioritize what concerns them the most, the article advises. Doctors that know about all the issues bothering a patient can prioritize follow-up and testing.

To learn more:
- read the article