When it comes to relationships, your doctor likely isn’t the first person who comes to mind. However, when it comes to your health, having a strong relationship with a dedicated doctor can have major benefits. Below, Dr. Kristin Dean shares why building a relationship with your primary care physician (PCP) can be so helpful, and how to go about it.
What is a doctor-patient relationship?
The doctor-patient relationship is what attracts many doctors to the field of medicine. It can be described as the human bond that develops between the doctor and the patient — it’s where the “care” in medical care takes place. Similar to other relationships, a strong doctor-patient relationship must be built on communication, trust, respect and honesty between both parties.
What are the benefits of having a good relationship with your doctor?
Patients with a strong doctor-patient relationship often benefit from better disease control and improvements in overall health. Having a primary care physician who knows you, and your health history, helps the doctor give you personalized healthcare recommendations. They also can help you to navigate the complicated world of medical care. With the many different ways to access medical care these days, it is easy for people to bounce around between different doctors’ offices. This means that each visit with a doctor is like starting over again with someone new. This can lead to different treatment recommendations and overall confusion about the best care for you. Just like the old saying “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup,” too many doctors involved in your healthcare can lead to a decreased quality of care.
In addition, once patients have built a trusted relationship, they feel more comfortable talking to their primary care physician about sensitive subjects. For example, they may speak more honestly about issues with medical care, such as having a hard time following a medication regimen or diet. This honest and open communication allows the doctor to help find solutions to these barriers instead of recommending additional treatments that are not going to work.
How do you build a relationship with your doctor?
Building a doctor-patient relationship is just like any other relationship. For a strong foundation, consider the following:
- Find the right doctor for you — someone that fits your personality and communication style
- Take the time to visit your doctor in regular intervals
- Be open and honest with your doctor about your habits and lifestyle
- Ask questions if you do not understand something that the doctor has said
- Tell your doctor if you have a concern about a treatment recommendation
- Be willing to work towards changes to improve your health.
The best doctor-patient relationships include both parties working together as a team to determine how to achieve your health goals. Simply finding a doctor that you like to talk to and visit with can help you to take steps towards improving your health.
About the author
Dr. Kristin Dean is a Family Practice Physician who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Nutritional Sciences. She continued her loyalty to the ‘Gator Nation’ and completed her medical school education at the University of Florida College of Medicine in 2010. Dr. Dean then moved to Los Angeles to complete her training in Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Dean considers healthcare to be a team approach, with the patient being the captain of the healthcare team. Although she considers a healthy lifestyle to be the starting point for all healthcare plans, she uses medicine, empathy and education to continue to improve her patient’s health.