Talking about diabetes is not easy, even with familiar doctors. There are several ways to effectively communicate with doctors and other health-care professionals to ensure that you get the most out of your next visit. Here are a few tips to improve communication.
1. Prepare for your visit
With the average doctor’s visit lasting about 15 minutes — including about five minutes for patients to talk — it’s important to be ready for what you want to say. Write down a list of questions or topics that you want to discuss since it’s common to forget questions during an appointment. Once you’re in the office, ask your most important questions first in case the doctor is interrupted.
2. Write down the answers
Taking notes will help avoid any misunderstanding about what your doctor said. Use your mobile device to take notes or ask your doctor if you can record the visit. Recording the visit through your mobile device is also helpful for sharing the information with family members. If you cannot write down the answers or record the visit, ask someone to come with you who can help follow the conversation. Your loved one may think of questions or remember details about your symptoms or treatment that you may forget to mention.
3. Share symptoms
Don’t forget to talk about any new symptoms that you might be experiencing. Maybe you’ve been having more hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) events or your A1C levels have been higher than normal. Your doctor needs to know this information for effective diabetes management.
4. Drug discussion
If your doctor prescribes a new medicine, adds another drug or switches you to something new, there are a number of questions that you should consider asking: Why are you prescribing this medicine or changing my prescription? How and when should I take this medication? What are the side effects? Will it interact with any other medicines I’m taking? How will I know if the medication is working? Will my insurance cover this medicine?
5. Follow-up questions
Ask your doctor to repeat the information or explain technical language if it’s unclear. It’s also helpful to summarize the facts in your own words. Some common phrases include: “What you’re saying is that I should…” or “If I understand you correctly, my next step is…” If you’re more of a visual learner, ask your doctor for brochures or printouts that can help explain the material.