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Consumer Health Resources: Healthcare Communication Tips

Resources and tips for patients and health consumers

Humanities Fest 2022

Point of Contact: Level Up Your Healthcare “Game”

Join Nursing & Health Sciences Librarian, Professor Debra Smith, in an exploration of the cultural, societal, familial, and individual "norms" or "patterns" that we apply to our health and interactions with healthcare professionals. Improve your interactions with providers and transform yourself from a passive patient into a proactive partner advocating for your well-being and health.  Learn valuable tips ranging from scheduling to pre-visit preparation, the actual healthcare visit (virtual or face-to-face), and any post or follow-up contact.

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Need research help and not sure where to turn? Get help from the library via email, chat, and online appointments or stop by one of our reference desks during open hours of operation. 

Want to contact your Nursing & Health Sciences Librarian or set up a virtual or F2F appointment with her? Email Debra Smith:

Questions are the Answer! PSA (1:00) & AHRQ's Restaurant PSA (:30)

Pre-Visit Communication Tips

Some helpful tips that you can do BEFORE a visit to your healthcare providers:

  • Keep a "journal" or list of symptoms that you want to mention to your healthcare provider (when the pain started in your hip or a pattern of when headaches start/stop)
  • Routinely ask for copies of visit summaries and test results
    • If you have access to MyChart, take advantage of it!
  • Keep a binder of all medical information including medications, lab test results, visit summaries/diagnoses/treatments. Remember: Not all heathcare providers share electronic medical records or systematically exchange information
  • Prior to a healthcare visit, create a list of questions that you want answered before the end of your visit. Make a copy of it to share with your healthcare provider so that you are both "on the same page" when discussing your concerns!
    • If you have a lot of questions, prioritize them (put a star by the ones that must be addressed before the visit ends)
  • You should provide an updated MASTER list (including all medications--prescribed and over-the-counter-- vitamins, and supplements) to all of your healthcare providers and to every pharmacy that you utilize (local and mail-order). Clear communication and sharing will help prevent drug interactions or overdoses.When creating a medication/supplement list, it is important to not only include the medication name, dosage and how/when you take it, but to also include WHY you take the medicine (for what condition/disease).

Image of an Ophthalmic Technician performing an exam






Health Appointment Communication Tips (Office and Virtual)

  • Bring:cartoon woman looking at a poster that says I see
    • List of questions
    • Current medication list
    • Updates from other healthcare professionals (your binder of medical documentation)
  • Consider bringing a small audio recorder or use your phone to record your session for later referral/clarification
  • Have a family member, friend, or other trusted individual accompany you to support you and be an "extra set of ears"
  • Take notes, confirm spelling of conditions, diseases, treatments, and medications
  • Don't be afraid to call the office back with additional questions and/or concerns
  • When scheduling a visit (or a follow-up visit), request an "extended visit" to allow more time for discussion of your issues
  • Remember that medicine-related questions can be directed to both healthcare providers AND pharmacists

Recommended Reading/Resources

1-page article with excellent tips:

Horowitz, D. (2010, August). Consumer Connection: Speak up for good care: Getting the healthcare you deserve. The Costco Connection, p. 13.

Questions are the Answer --Advice from Heathcare Professionals and Patients (6:52)

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  • Last Updated: Jan 12, 2024 10:46 AM
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