Doctor Reputation

How to Get Your Patients Involved In Their Health

How to Get Your Patients Involved In Their Health

A physician can only do so much for a patient in the office or hospital. The rest will depend on what the patient does while the doctor can’t see him or her. A patient with hypertension may be diagnosed at the age of 50 and will only see their doctor for half an hour or so every few months. The rest of their lives they’re going to have to monitor their blood pressure and take their meds on their own. The same goes for a diabetic who will have to adjust their life in order to correctly and adequately manage their diabetes. If a patient isn’t involved in their healthcare then doctors won’t be able to make much of a difference because the patient lives his or her life outside the office not inside it.

It’s also true that you can only help someone up to a certain point. They need to help themselves too. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people aren’t in good health because they aren’t involved in their own healthcare when in fact they should be the major ones responsible for it. This can be due to the complexity of medicine or the doctor not having enough time or patience for patients. The important thing is to fix this which can be done through good communication, getting patients to monitor their own health, teaching them to access their EHRs, and by educating them about their illness through various methods.

Patients not being involved can be due to a number of factors. Some of them simply don’t take their disease seriously especially something such as hypertension where the patient barely suffers from symptoms if any. If they’re not aware of the complications and consequences of hypertension they may not care at all. For a lot of people they let themselves get worse until their family and loved ones practically force them to go see a doctor. Another issue is them not understanding their illness fully which we can’t blame them for because they haven’t been to medical school. Doctors should make sure that patients know the basics regarding their disease, its course, and what to expect. This brings us to poor doctor patient communication which can happen when a doctor is too busy to answer a patient’s questions and address his or her concerns. Only through combating these issues will we be able to involve patients in their own health.

Good communication is the best tool to do this. It’s important for physicians to give patients enough time rather than rush them in order to get on with their busy schedule. You really benefit nothing if you see 20 patients a day and none of them fully understand what they suffer from. You just diagnosed 20 people but their outcomes will be poor because you didn’t give them the instruments to take their health into their own hands and change things for the better. Take your time with patients and explain to them in clear simple words what they have and maybe how or why they have it. It’s also important to explain what they should expect next. Make their prognosis clear. Tell them if it’s something they’ll have to live with forever or if it’s an acute condition that will resolve in a few days. Explaining the complications to them is also very important because they’ll know what to look for and realizing that a disease has complications may get them to take extra care of themselves in order to avoid it. If they have any questions make sure to listen and answer the best you can. You could also offer your contact info on a designated application or a Facebook page dedicated to patients so that they can ask you any questions they think of later. Patients will really appreciate it when you do this and it’ll make them more involved and their lives a lot easier.

Don’t just tell them to follow a healthy diet and exercise while taking their meds. Explain to them how healthy food and exercising will make their life better. We’ve all been given instructions throughout our lives and it always helped to know the reasoning behind these instructions. No one likes following orders blindly without seeing the purpose and they probably won’t do it for long.

Giving patients the opportunity to monitor themselves will make them feel more in power which will encourage them to keep going. Tell a diabetic to monitor his or her blood glucose levels everyday and tell them to notice the different results according to the things they do during a day. They’ll realize that eating cake makes their glucose levels worse while eating healthy and exercising will lower their glucose levels. They’ll also notice improvement with their medications. This is them experiencing proof that what they’re doing matters. That waking up early and jogging was hard but worth it. Proof will encourage and excite them because they’re going to start feeling that it really is up to them and what they do. The same goes for a hypertensive monitoring his or her blood pressure. It’s not just about monitoring through devices, but they can monitor their overall health as well. Tell a smoker with chronic lung disease to quit smoking and they probably won’t listen to you, but if you tell them what they’ll experience on each day after they quit smoking they might look forward to it and will have an easier time doing it.

Teach patients to access their electronic health records. This will give them access to all the medical information added to that record by their different physicians from the moment the record started which may have been at birth. This will show them everything they suffered from, their allergies, previous and current medications, procedures underwent, and more. They’ll have the facts at their disposable whenever they choose to see them. This may even help with monitoring as they’ll have previous investigations to compare current results to in order to see whether or not they’re getting better.

Learning aids can be used to teach them about diseases and treatments. Since it would take a lot of time for a physician to break down and explain complex diseases to every single patient they can give them a brief idea then direct them to a learning aid that makes things clearer. These aids will mostly be online so that patients can access them whenever they feel like it. It’s also a good idea to push patients to looking up their disease online and treatments while making sure they still follow your prescriptions and instructions. Get them involved online because even at this day and age not everyone will look up what they have on the internet. Encourage them to ask you if they have any questions regarding the things they find online, but at the same time it’s important to not let it get out of hand. You don’t want your patients obsessing over their illness and making it the center of their lives.

The importance of people being involved in their health through decision making and follow up can’t be overstated. A doctor who works alone with involving his or her patients will not succeed. You don’t get absolute compliance from someone who doesn’t feel part of what’s going on even though it should all be about them, and even if they comply a little in the start they won’t keep it up for long. Simple things such as a little more time for better communication with patients, teaching them to access their online records, directing them towards learning aids, and showing them proof that what they do matters through self-monitoring will all make a huge difference to patients.