Which do you think physicians rely on most for making a diagnosis: the doctor’s physical exam of the client or the client’s history?
According to Dr. Maria Hester, writing in the Professional Patient Institute newsletter, physicians rely on the client history 80% of the time, and use their physical exam to validate what the client tells them.
So what your clients share in their client history matters. But there is a major issue: doctors and clients don’t think or communicate in the same way. “Physicians went to medical school to learn how to walk, talk, and think in a scientific, methodical manner. Patients did not, so they walk, talk and think like nonmedical personnel,” writes Dr. Hester.
As professionals working with clients to help improve their well-being, we can play a major role in helping build people’s ability to communicate effectively with their physicians.
The first step is as simple as raising this issue with your clients – share with them how much doctors rely on their history of their complaint or condition. Let them know that doctors often think differently when evaluating the information clients provide.
Then share this checklist that Dr. Hester recommends that people use as a framework for communicating with their doctors.
Framework for Communicating Effectively with Doctors
When an illness first begins, start documenting the following:
- Context of the illness, e.g., the back pain started an hour after lifting furniture
- Exacerbating or relieving factors
- Whether this was the first such occurrence. If not, were any tests performed to evaluate this problem in the past? What were the results? Was a diagnosis given?
- If the symptom is pain, does it radiate any place? How severe is the pain and what impact does the pain have on the activities of daily living? What is the character of the pain, i.e., sharp, dll, achy, etc.
- Chronological sequence of the symptoms in question.
- Presence or absence of other symptoms that occurred in close temporal relationship to the primary complaint.
- Those related to or in close contact with patient who may have similar symptoms.
Advocating for and assisting clients with communicating with their physicians is a major aspect of a Lifesprk Life Care Manager’s role. For more information on Lifesprk services or Life Care Managers, please contact Lifesprk Navigation at 952-345-8770 or email us.