Quality time with your doctor makes a difference in your health

The time you spend with your doctor can make a big difference in your health.

Consumer Reports says you'll get more out of your doctor's appointment by organizing a prioritized list of your questions ahead of time.

Dr. Nancy Beran said, "It's important that patients come with their information prepared, with what they want to discuss."

But sometimes the best of intentions get derailed.

"Doctors are distracted with entering data, getting telephone calls from other physicians and interruptions. Patients are distracted on their cell phones and with what's going in their lives," said Dr. Beran.

Internist Nancy Beran says both doctor and patient need to ignore distractions and slow down and really listen during an exam.

Additionally, Consumer Reports says for doctors, dealing with electronic health records can take time away from the patient.

A 2014 study by Northwestern University found that primary-care doctors spent about a third of the time managing records on the computer during an exam rather than looking at their patients.

That makes it harder to pick up non-verbal cues.

Diane Umansky, Consumer Reports Health Editor said, "If you feel like your doctor is distracted or fails to understand your problem, it's fine to politely let them know. Most will actually appreciate the opportunity to slow down and focus."

Dr. Beran agrees.

"You have to have a rapport with patients. It's important for the patient to be heard," she said.

Once you are satisfied that all your concerns have been addressed, repeat the action plan at the end of the appointment to make sure you are in agreement with your doctor.

And collect a printed copy of your patient summary, usually at the reception desk.


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