Every doctor has been in this classic situation: “Do you have any questions?” the doctor asks. The patient replies with a “no” simultaneously shaking his or her head. The doctor feels satisfied that they have answered their patient’s questions but in reality the patient has so many questions popping up, it’s causing them a near migraine.
Patients have many questions but shyness and the fear of being thought of as “stupid” causes them to shut their lips tight. As a doctor, it is your responsibility to make sure the patient understands the information you give to them. It does not matter if it is a new regimen or a procedure, the patient will always have questions. Don’t assume that giving them a pamphlet or sheet is going to answer the questions they don’t ask you.
Now that you know that this is a big problem, how does a doctor find a way to pull the questions out of the patient? The most important thing you need to do is make your patient as comfortable as possible. It is important to have good non-verbal language to ease your patient’s anxiety.
A good way to address unasked questions is to compile a list of frequently asked questions. Depending on the type of doctor you are, after years of experience you will know exactly the kind of questions the “bolder” patients ask. If you are an optometrist explain to them what an astigmatism is and why you are checking the pressure in their eyes
Another great way to get questions out of patients is to include the Ask Me 3 questions Health Literacy included in an article. These questions are:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do about it?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
You can either answer these questions without the patient asking or give them a sheet of paper containing questions that they might want to ask their provider. It makes it easier for them to ask and lets them get comfortable.
It is important that your patients ask questions to make sure they understand why you, as a doctor, are doing the things you are doing. Not sure how to do this? Contact us at Mindstream Creative for help.