Patient Relationships: Encouraging Self-advocacy

Patient-provider relationships should be a partnership. And while physicians, advanced practice providers and even front office staff may encourage communication with patients—by speaking directly to very young patients in addition to older ones—sometimes there is little reciprocation.

Here are some areas you can indicate to patients to encourage more self-advocacy and participation in their care. Encourage patients to discuss:

  • The necessity of any test—bloodwork, ultrasound, MRI, etc.—taking extra care when talking in front of a frightened child or fretful adult.
  • Cost of care so that you can try to work within their budget for tests, medications, etc.
  • Details of a surgeon’s success rate, recovery time from surgery, possible hurdles post-surgery.
  • Recommendations for a specialist, ask why you prefer her/him.
  • If there is a preferred location to get tests such as an ultrasound or MRI, or even a convenient location to have blood drawn if it cannot be done at your office.
  • How any results be communicated to them from your office.


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