10 Suggestions to Improve the Doctor-Patient Visit (from a patient’s viewpoint)

I have spent more time in doctors’ offices than I care to remember.  It occurred to me that my insights have merit from experience. Here are some suggestions that I would love to see implemented in doctors’ offices:

10) When speaking with the patient, talk to them as if they were your own best friend. By considering that someone close to you may be just as at risk as your patient should make you more sensitive and thoughtful to how you relate and interact with your patients.

9) Your time is valuable, but so is mine. I have no hard numbers on just how many hours I have lost from waiting on doctors, but I can assure you that I am owed at least a few months.

8) As medicine and technology continue to merge more and more and the veil of healthcare costs are revealed through websites like https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/, physicians ‘relationships with pharmaceutical companies and procedure providers will become public knowledge. This fascinating site reveals how much doctors were paid by drug companies (at this time the site only covers the last few months of 2013). Keep an eye on the site as it gets updated in the next few months.

7) I am not a doctor but as a patient and one who knows his own body, it is of vital importance that you hand out helpful and nurturing advice prior to rushing into altering a drug regimen or suggesting a risky life threatening procedure. Listen to the patient as well as the care partner/caregiver. Each of them has important information to relay to you to make the best possible recommendation.

6) If your patient sees more than 1 doctor other than you, it would seem practical and logical that you and the patient’s physicians share data to refrain from duplicative testing, sharing a history of allergies and sensitivities, and just keeping all the players involved, on the same page.  Health requires a team effort where doctors in their specialty actually confer and share their knowledge with the other specialists working with the patient. Communication between ALL your doctors is easier in this modern day.

Building blocks!

Building blocks!

5) How you communicate with your patient can be more critical than the information that you are delving out. Patients get white coat anxiousness for a reason. A good visit means more than providing the patient with helpful  medical advice, it would make the whole doctor experience better for everyone if you could show compassion and view a doctor’s visit from the patient’s perspective.

4)  The term “waiting room” should be gone for good, but if it must still live on, how about proving that the patient/customer still matters? Comfortable seating, cheerful art, free Internet access, and water to take medications are the very least of the amenities that one might expect, as they wait. Television in the waiting room does not appeal to everyone and can be very annoying when made mandatory.

3) Some physicians have embraced technology and made strides in making it easier for patients to update their records and to reduce paper in triplicate. Patients with mobility or handwriting issues should not be forced to fill documents in by hand. Some offices have not moved forward at all.

2) The administrative people and nurses that patients must deal with are a direct reflection of your “practice” as well as you as a healthcare provider. If they aren’t treating the patient right, you may end up with unhappy patients, or even worse, fewer patients.

1) Good medicine is more than just handing out drugs or understanding the science behind a condition, it is about real care for the patient’s needs. It is about working with the patient and his or her family members to determine the best possible strategy for the patient’s future and best outcome.

Take Time To Appreciate

The people that we encounter leave indelible impressions that can last a lifetime. When in I was in my early twenties and unable to get a diagnosis of my illness, some individuals that I did not know all that well showed me kindness that I remain grateful for to this day.

I had moved to a city that I did not know well and had no friends. I was drawn to an art gallery that specialized in nature photography. The photographs were comforting as was the gallery owner and photographer who were one and the same. His name was Patrick and he became a dear friend. His gallery gave me solace. On a day when I needed a getaway, Patrick’s gallery was my sanctuary.

Before I left town, I bought 2 of Patrick’s amazing southwest desert photos. The photos were not just pieces of art but they were reminders of our friendship and the gift his friendship meant to me. I don’t think I ever told Patrick what his friendship meant or how he got me through some dark days with his mentoring.

Patrick and I lost touch as many of us often do when we move away. Not until recently did it occur to me to look Patrick up and reconnect with him through social media. I couldn’t find him anywhere. After racking my brain to how I might find him, I remembered that we had a mutual friend who was a photographer. I contacted our mutual friend after 20+ years In hope that he could tell me where Patrick might be. A few days later, I got my answer.

The email said he was sorry that he didn’t have better news and it linked to a website. I clicked on the website and it linked to the local paper. The paper announced Patrick’s obituary and read from the year 2007 that Patrick had had a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

I was filled with regret that I had lost touch and had failed to realize what he had done for me. I had let too much time pass.  I wasn’t there for him like he had been there for me. I was and am very sorry but I learned a huge lesson from Patrick and I am thankful.

  • When someone shows you kindness, make sure that you express your gratitude so that they know how you feel.
  • Share the gratitude that you feel for that special person who stepped into your life to make a lasting impression. Feel the need to pass it on.
  • Don’t wait to share your feelings with those people in your life. You may not get another opportunity.

I am grateful that I can share the gift that Patrick gave to me. I hope that you will share it as well.

10 Tips for Staying Positive and Proactive

DSC_0956

Watching dogs play in the snow made me laugh!

Here are 10 Tips for Staying Positive and Proactive

  • Take care of yourself. The more you know about Parkinson’s, the better. You play the key role in your own health. Seek out therapies/modalities that work for you. Accepting your illness does not mean giving up.
  • Appreciate the good in every day. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Savor and appreciate everything.
  • Stay flexible in all ways. A rigid pole often tends to break in the wind. A flexible pole will bend and give in the wind. Being more flexible will add a new dimension to your life.
  • A person with a good attitude is much easier to be around and is good for our well-being.
  • Being positive is a choice! When we label everything “good” or “bad”, we lose sight that we cannot savor one without the other. You cannot have the sweet without the bitter. This is life!
  • Explore the stressors in your daily life. Find an outlet to help you release your stress.
  • Procrastination, denial, fear, and apathy only delay the opportunity to begin our own self care. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
  • If you don’t laugh every day, start! Laughter has all kinds of health benefits. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t stop laughing!
  • Plan ahead for what you can and be aware and engaged. Always have a plan B, C, or more.
  • The best exercise or activity is the one that you like and you are willing to do. If Parkinson’s prohibits us from doing something we love, then we must find a replacement for that activity.

Click this link for the 10 Tips PDF to share.

Comeback Kid

It has been close to 4 years since my cat Shadow, lost her eye to Cancer. As worried parents, we were uncertain of how our vivacious ornery ball of fluff would mend or adapt to losing an eye. To our amazement, after coming out of the anesthesia, Shadow was back to her old self. She showed no signs of harboring any anger or resentment for having gone through surgery, and she ate earlier than we had expected. The day after losing her eye, as if nothing had changed, Shadow skillfully walked around the bathroom tub to prove to us that she was still the same cat.

Shadow is my model and daily inspiration for resilience and tenacity. She has taught me so much about how important it is to stay focused and to push forward. A former street cat, Shadow took about 3 months to finally trust us. Her will to live and strength make her a true survivor!

My one-eyed  cat!

My one-eyed cat!

A Soft Voice blog name WPC Blogger Partner with World Parkinson Congress 2016!

WPC Official Blogger PartnerI am so honored to have been chosen as a WPC blogger partner for the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) 2016 in Portland! If you haven’t been to a WPC event, I whole-heartedly encourage you to join us. Meet amazing people living with Parkinson’s disease, learn about the research and important work being done around the world. Held every 3 years, the Congress returns to the United States’ host city of Portland, Oregon for the 4th gathering on September 20 -23, 2016.

From WPC – “WPC Inc. has expanded its partnership program to the global community of bloggers in the Parkinson’s space.  If you are interested in our WPC Blogger Partner program, email us at info@worldpdcoalition.org.”

Having attended the Congresses in Washington, DC and Montreal, I can tell you the event is packed with information, inspiration, and an array of wonderful international presenters. Hear the most recent research on Parkinson’s and experience the multitude of therapies being used by people affected by the illness. Make new friends, learn about what’s happening in Parkinson’s, and explore a southwestern gem of a city. Watch for my posts and tweets about WPC announcements. I hope to see you there!

Karl

@asoftvoicepd

Comfort Zone

CIMG6431When one is tested with the disruption of illness or ailment, it sets a new parameter in determining our comfort zone. To be human is to label what we call “good days” and “bad days” and with time, self-care, medical and complementary therapies, nutrition, rest, exercise, and a positive attitude, those good days become better days and the bad days may just transition into good days.

A New Look For A Soft Voice Blog!

We are changing and upgrading the look and feel of the A Soft Voice blog! You will find it easier to navigate and discover material that may have been easily overlooked. With 150 postings on my site, I hope that you uncover something new that interests you. If you like my site, you may want to subscribe to stay up-to-date with the blog and announcements.

I hope you find benefit from the new fresh look!

Karl

Library Book Offer For A Soft Voice in A Noisy World

Library Program Offer
I am so thankful to you, my readers that I would like to extend an offer. A year ago, I donated 5 copies of my book to the Fairfax County Public Library. If you would like to make this book available to your local library, please have your library contact me or send me their contact information. This is a wonderful way to share important information!
If you would to like your library to participate, please have them contact me by sending the librarian name, library name, phone number, email, and address of the library. Thank you for your interest!

Happy 2015!

Picture by Karl Robb

To my friends and followers,

Thank you for your support and interest in my blog! Watch for my 2nd book to be released in 2015! I plan to improve this site and post more often.

If you have topics, issues related to PD or interviews that you would like me to address or explore , please let me know. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Karl

What does another New Year’s mean?

  1. It means that I can disregard all the junk food that I ate last year and start with a clean slate.
  2. I can watch When Harry Met Sally and count my blessings that I have a wonderful spouse.
  3. It means I have to complete ALL of the projects that I neglected or left unfinished plus create new projects to leave uncompleted for next year!
  4. I have an excuse to drink sparkling wine and stay up late to sing a song that I’m not sure I understand.
  5. I can make semi-firm promises to myself that I may or may not keep.
  6. I can write checks and letters for at least a month with the wrong year on them.
  7. I’ll be saying, “Where did that year go?”
  8. I can pity those people in Times Square who actually choose to experience the human to Sardine can process.
  9. I can try to justify my need for juggling multiple paper calendars when all I need is the ONE on my smartphone.
  10. I have to hurry up my tax preparation so I can file an extension to get even more time.
  11. I can practice procrastination to the point of being an art form!
  12. Make re-solutions to old habits.
  13. Join a health club for a week and bitch about my weight the remaining 51 weeks.
  14. Laugh as much as you can and try not to be so serious.

Oh Joy!

How do you define a “good day”? The elements that compose the day are subjective and may easily be disrupted to alter what was going so well. From moment to moment that which brings us pleasure or contentment is liable to ruin by an unexpected act or outside influence. Most of us are likely to dwell on the disruption as opposed to the interrupted enjoyment.

Staying focused on the positive takes practice and a clear vision. How we perceive our place in any situation is a matter of perspective. From another’s viewpoint what you think to be a horrible place, others may envy.

Identifying and savoring the simplest of moments should not be overlooked. Remember the taste of a great meal, the sweet essence of your favorite flowers in a breeze, or the chorus of croaking tree frogs on a warm summer night. High expectations can be met with simple pleasures, but expecting too much only sets us up for disappointment. Living a life of gratitude and not envy, may just be the secret to happiness.

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