3 Must-Ask Questions for Every Doctor’s Visit

FullSizeRenderCommunicating clearly and simply is an essential part of the job of all health care providers. When doctors have good communication with their patients, it allows individuals to play a more active role in making their own health care decisions.

But sometimes the information doctors share may be difficult to understand, especially when it involves specialized conditions, procedures or medications. The amount of medical information a person is able to obtain, process and understand is called health literacy. This can be affected by many things including communication skills, cultural backgrounds and demands of the situation (e.g. a busy doctor or uninvolved patient).

Medical information can be overwhelming to anyone. Because of this, the National Patient Safety Foundation created the “Ask Me 3” patient education program, which helps to improve health literacy by encouraging patients to ask three questions:

1. What is my main problem?

2. What do I need to do?

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

Research has shown that patients with lower health literacy are 50 percent more likely to end up in the hospital. The NPSF also reports they are less likely to take their medication properly and have less knowledge of their disease.

If you don’t understand something your doctor says, ask them to explain it in a different way. Next time you visit your health care provider, follow the Ask Me 3 questions to be sure you leave with all the information you need to get better.

A good patient-provider relationship is central to BCBSM’s Patient-Centered Medical Home model. Click here to learn more or use Blue Cross’ Find a Doctor Tool to select a PCMH-designated physician.

Photo credit: Angela Hernandez

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