Understanding your healthcare team’s instructions

How to improve communication between patient and doctor

Not everyone has a doctor they see regularly. Many have a healthcare provider like a nurse practitioner or a specialist. The key for you, as the patient in the relationship with your healthcare provider, is communication. Use these tips to make sure you are being heard and that you clearly understand your diagnosis and what you need to do to be healthy.

  • Use the Ask Me 3®1 questions. Ask your healthcare provider these three direct and important questions:

1. What is my main problem?

2. What do I need to do?

3. Why is it important for me to do this?

As the patient, you can use questions like these to help improve your communication skills. This can make a big difference in how confident you are in succeeding in your treatment:

  • Teach back what you know. Once you heard the instructions, repeat them back to your healthcare provider in your own words. This may help reveal details you need to have explained to you again.

  • Try this out on your family. Now, take it one step further and explain what your healthcare team told you to a loved one. This is also a good way to better prepare the people around you to support you in keeping up with your treatment.

1Ask Me 3® is a registered trademark licensed to The National Safety Foundation.

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