Talking to Your Doctor


Do your best to take an active role

  • Some people feel nervous visiting the doctor. Even if you do, try to take an active role in the visit by making it a conversation with your doctor.
  • Ask questions when you don't understand what you're hearing or seeing. Ask for copies of written material you can take home.
  • Repeat things in your own words: "So I think what you're saying is … Did I get that right?"

Make the Visit a Conversation

Be ready for your visit

Bring as many of these items as you can:

Medicines you're currently taking— including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal and supplements

Insurance cards

Prewritten questions on current health concerns

Paper or smartphone for taking notes

Call ahead or tell the front desk as soon as you arrive if you need language interpretation services. You can get free language services at all City-run hospitals and clinics.

Be open about your symptoms and concerns

  • Remember, your health is worth your doctor's time.
  • Mention any concerns about your emotional well-being. This affects your physical health and is just as important as any other health problem.
  • If you have trouble reading or understanding numbers, it helps to tell your doctor so he or she can provide the best possible care.
  • Tell your doctor if you're concerned about the cost of your medicines. Lower cost medicines or programs may be available.
A doctor who is the right fit for you will:
  • Make you feel comfortable
  • Respond to your concerns
  • Provide the same level of care regardless of what information you share

If you feel uncomfortable with your doctor, or if you think your doctor is not responding to your concerns, consider finding a new provider.

Build a strong relationship with your doctor

Having a relationship that is built on respect, communication and trust is important to your health.

In a study by Consumer Reports, doctors said that forming a long-term relationship with a primary-care physician is the most important thing a patient can do to obtain better medical care, with 76 per­cent saying it would help "very much."

Source: What Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew, March 2011 report from Consumer Reports for members of the National Business Group on Health