Visits to the doctor’s office can be gut-wrenching and anxiety-ridden, even if it is for a yearly check-up at the local clinic. It becomes even more tense if you are walking in with a serious concern after months or years of contact with your physician. A patient-doctor relationship is just like any other relationship we make in the course of our lives; it must be nurtured with regular doses of candor, trust and communication.

Did you know that ensuring effective patient-doctor communication is an essential part of medical practice? According to a recent survey conducted between orthopedic surgeons and their patients, 75% of those doctors believed their communication with patients was satisfactory. Out of the patients who were surveyed, however, only 21% believe that their communication with the doctor was adequate. Such a significant gap indicates that there is an urgent need on both sides of the stethoscope for clearer, more deliberate communication. Doing so will ensure that patients open up about any symptoms or concerns they have and allow their physicians to accurately diagnose and treat them back to optimal health.

A doctor’s ‘bedside manner’ is a classic indication of their professional competence. When patients feel confident sharing their perceptions and fears with their physician, the medical professional is empowered to put to use years of medical study and experience in healthcare to use.

Here are some tips to improve communication with your doctor which you can test out on your next visit:

  • Medical practitioners are trained to use open-ended questions when talking to patients. Try to avoid answering with “yes” or “no” and try to use more descriptions or feelings while discussing an ailment or concern.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what a word or medical term means! Your doctor went to medical and you did not, so feel free to increase your understanding and medical literacy by asking a question.
  • Always fill out the surveys! No matter what the concern, try to fill out any patient satisfaction surveys or medical care experience surveys that you are presented with in the waiting room. These are important tools to help the medical staff better assess and improve both the patient-doctor communication and the quality of care you are being provided at the clinic.

At Tempus, we strongly believe that strong communication between patients and doctors results in more accurate diagnosis and an overall boost to the in-clinic experience. Every member of Tempus, including founder and leading cancer researcher Eric Lefkofsky, honors the tenets of a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship and recognizes its contribution towards delivering quality health care. Though our approach at Tempus for diagnosis is data-centric, we understand that numbers will fall flat without the support of patient-centered communication between the medical staff as well as with the concerned patient. We have witnessed improvement in patient outcomes with technological advancements in personalized cancer treatments; the medical team at Tempus prioritizes shared decision-making between the patient and the doctor to ensure healing and recovery.