Have you ever wanted to ask your doctor a question but didn’t because you felt uncomfortable? Experts say that an impersonal relationship with your doctor could be preventing you from receiving the best care possible.
“Your doctors should feel like valued members of your family — and you a part of theirs. That’s how I operate in my practice and what I aim to foster in my patients,” says Dr. Ken Redcross, who brings nearly 20 years of experience to his new book dealing with this subject, “Bond: The 4 Cornerstones of a Lasting and Caring Relationship with Your Doctor.”
Whether you have a new doctor or you’ve been at the same practice for years, your patient-doctor bond may be on faulty ground. But it doesn’t have to be, suggests Dr. Redcross. He believes that by establishing these four essential qualities in your patient-doctor relationships, you’ll pave the way to receiving better care:
• Trust. Trust is essential in any relationship, including the one with your doctor. There is no sharing without trust, and sharing is crucial when it comes to receiving the best possible care.
• Communication. No relationship can be sustained without open and honest communication on both sides, but developing healthy communication habits takes practice, effort and willingness.
• Respect. Respect is treating others with common courtesy, good social manners and appreciating each other’s humanity. This means respecting each other’s experience, knowledge and time.
• Empathy. Empathy is the ability to sense another person’s emotions and to be able to place yourself in his or her shoes, which is a valuable quality in a doctor. However, many physicians strive for a state of “concerned detachment,” which is the opposite of empathy. At the same time, patients can be more empathic, too, taking the time to consider everything their doctors may be dealing with on the day of their visit.
Building a great relationship with your doctor leads to practical benefits, says Dr. Redcross. In dealings with his own patients, he finds that great communication paves the way for better treatment.
“Recently, a patient of mine was dealing with muscle pain and we had a long conversation about different options. Initially, I recommended that she take traditional pain reliever with naproxen sodium every morning. However, by talking through all the options and what best fit her situation, including her overall medical history, preferences and more, we settled on using Arnica montana, a lower-risk plant-based pain reliever instead,” says Dr. Redcross. “Feeling comfortable enough with your doctor to challenge a suggestion and have a long and complete conversation is key. Unfortunately, such discussions between patients and doctors are rare.”
To learn more about the book, as well as about building better relationships with your doctors, visit, BondByDrRedcross.com.
At a time when doctor’s visits seem more routine and formulaic than ever before, experts say that receiving individualized care is possible, and it all starts with building strong relationships with your health care providers.