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How to better communicate with your doctor

It can improve your health

This article was last updated Nov. 13, 2023.

Can you talk to your doctor? About anything? One study shows that patients who have a good relationship with their doctor have better health outcomes External Site.

For this study, doctors completed training to improve their interactions with patients. As a result of these improved experiences, obese and diabetic patients lost more weight, arthritis patients reported less pain and patients with high blood pressure did a better job of lowering their numbers.

Logically, this makes sense. After all, if you have a primary care provider you know and trust, you’ll be more likely to schedule appointments, speak openly and honestly, listen to advice, and follow through on treatment.

“I may sound like a broken record,” says Dr. Naim Munir, chief medical officer at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “But having a doctor you know and trust is one of the most important things you can do for your health.”

According to Dr. Munir, the smartest patients know they play a key role in the relationship. “It’s a two-way street. You need to do your part. For it to work, you need to be your own health care advocate.”

Tips for better communication with your doctor

  1. Understand your health plan.

    Know the basics of your health plan and how it works. Don’t leave it up to your doctor to know the ins and outs. Log in or register for myWellmark® Secure Site to have all your benefit information at your fingertips.

  2. Share your full health history and concerns.

    Be open, honest, focused, and specific. When did your problem start? Have your symptoms improved or gotten worse? Have you tried treatments?

  3. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

    If you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do. It's important for you to be assertive when communicating with your doctor, but also to be understanding of their limitations and perspectives.

  4. Come to your appointment prepared.

    Bring a list of your current medications. During your appointment, write down instructions, so you’ll remember them later. If you think you might need help understanding your doctor's recommendations, bring a friend or family member with you. The more prepared you are, the better your doctor will be able to understand your health concerns and create a helpful treatment plan.

  5. Track your health tests yourself.

    What are they for and what will the test results show? When can you expect those results? Is there another option to get the same information? Should you be using a patient portal? Talk to your doctor about the best option for you.

  6. Find an in-network primary care provider

    A great patient-doctor relationship starts with finding the right in-network provider for you, and Wellmark makes it simple. Log in to your myWellmark account and click Find a Provider to search by name, specialty, or location.

  7. Watch out for red flags and talk about them with your doctor.

    Are your symptoms common (fatigue or sore throat) but your diagnosis rare? Have your symptoms not improved with treatment? Is your diagnosis based on one test only? Talk openly about your symptoms with your doctor and the possibility of a misdiagnosis.

  8. If necessary, get a second opinion.

    If your questions aren’t being answered, see another doctor for their opinion.

Choosing and using your primary care provider (PCP)

Your primary care, or family, doctor knows your medical history and is the medical professional you go to with your health concerns. When choosing the best PCP for you, consider these tips and log in or register for myWellmark Secure Site to make sure the doctor and facility you are considering is in your health plan network.