Clot Chronicles: Making the Most of a Clinic Visit

Hi, this is Mellanie True Hills. I’m the CEO and founder of We’re an atrial fibrillation patient advocacy organization, and we’re here live at our annual Get in Rhythm. Stay in Rhythm. Atrial Fibrillation Patient Conference. We’ve just had a great panel of doctors talking about how patients can get the best care, and there’ve been messages that come out of that that are valuable for both doctors and patients.

One of the things that was particularly interesting was the doctors’ concern about running late. When you’re spending more time with a patient than you’ve expected to spend with them, it’s important for patients to be able to understand that. It’s perfectly fine to communicate that to patients: “I was dealing with something. I want to be able to give you the amount of time you need. And so, if I’m running a little bit late, it’s because I’ve been giving somebody else the amount of time that they need.” That kind of communication can go a long way towards patients really understanding where you’re coming from. 

One of the doctors said if there’s a patient that just can’t afford to wait or doesn’t want to wait, they need to schedule for first thing in the morning because that’s when you’re not going to be running behind. So, that’s another thing to consider with those patients who get really antsy and are concerned if they have to wait an extra 2-5 minutes. This is really useful information. 

One of the things that we, as an organization, tell patients is that they need to be prepared for their appointment with you. They may not be aware of what a short timeframe you typically have with them. You may only have 5-7 minutes with them, and they need to be efficient in how they prepare for their appointment with you. If they bring in 3 pages of questions, you’re not going to have time; you’re going to get frustrated and they’re going to get frustrated. If they can prepare maybe 3 points or 3 priorities and have that organized for when they come in to meet with you, that’s one way that you can help them be ready and meet their expectations. 

It’s really all about patient-provider communication – making sure that patients get the best care by really understanding what you expect of them, and you being able to ask them what they expect of you. One of the things that comes out over and over again when we reach out and ask the patients about what makes a difference in their appointments with you is that they want you to ask them about their values and preferences. That’s especially important when it comes to the disconnect between patients and doctors regarding stroke prevention. 

For example, we know from research that doctors fear bleeds – but patients fear strokes because what’s worse than death is a debilitating stroke. Research has shown that patients will accept 4-5 bleeds to avoid a single stroke. So, understanding their preferences by asking them what they value and what their life’s about can really go a long way in improving communication between patients and their healthcare providers. 

There’s been a lot of great information shared here, but this is some high-level stuff that can make a difference. This is Mellanie True Hills at the Get in Rhythm. Stay in Rhythm. Atrial Fibrillation Patient Conference.

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