5 Ways You Can Be a Good Patient

Male Patient And Doctor Have Consultation In Hospital RoomWe always want the best doctors that we can find. Well, that’s a two-way street. Doctors want good patients.

“We want you to understand that this is a relationship,” said Nicole Florence, MD, an internal medicine physician and pediatrician with Memorial Physician Services-Koke Mill, part of Memorial Health System, during a recent interview on WTAX’s Ask The Expert program on the Ray Lytle Show. “There are certain things we expect of you as our patients.”

Here are a few things that good patients do:

Take Your Medications
A surprising number of patients don’t understand why they’re on medications and why they need to take those meds at the designated times. It’s vital to take your medication as instructed. Many patients don’t ask questions.

If you have to take one or two medications, that can be easy to manage. Some patients with chronic conditions may take 10 or 12 medications and maintaining their schedule can be a challenge. Setting an alarm on your smartphone can help. Using a pill organizer in which you store a week’s worth of pills in separate compartments based on the days of the week you take them can also help.

Keep a Health Journal
You can record your numbers for blood pressure or blood sugar levels in a journal and take that with you to each doctor’s appointment. Many times, patients come in and the only numbers the doctor has are the measurements taken during their visits. That may be one or two blood pressures a year to decide how well your blood pressure medication is working, Dr. Florence said.

You can download free apps to your smartphone to help you record those numbers. “Having those numbers when you go to your doctor can be really helpful in managing your health issues better,” Dr. Florence said.

Don’t Withhold Information
Some people are embarrassed to share some details with their doctor. It may not seem significant to you, but it may be very significant to your doctor. “The better communication you have and the more trusting relationship you have with your physician will help you to receive the best level of care,” Dr. Florence said.

Know When to Call the Office
If you’re not sure if you should call your doctor or go to ExpressCare, Dr. Florence advises that if it’s during office hours, give your doctor a call. “We know your history. We know your other medicines. It’s that relationship that will give you a better level of care,” Dr. Florence said.

However, if it’s after hours or you’re not in a place where you can get into your doctor’s office, it’s appropriate to call ExpressCare rather than wait until your doctor can see you, she said.

Prepare for Your Visits
The first step to preparing for your visit is to arrive on time. “If your appointment’s at 1 o’clock, that’s not when I want you to show up. That’s when I want you to be in the room waiting for me,” Dr. Florence said. Arrive for your doctor’s visit about 15 minutes early so you can be checked in and your vital signs can be taken. It takes only two or three patients to arrive a little late to jam up the schedule for everyone else.

When you make an appointment, make sure you tell the doctor’s staff everything you want to discuss. This allows the doctor’s office to allot the correct amount of time for your visit. “It’s really important for us to give you the time you need,” Dr. Florence said.

Nicole Florence, MD, is an internal medicine physician and pediatrician with Memorial Physician Services-Koke Mill. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where she completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics. Dr. Florence is board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics and obesity medicine.