Highly effective communication around a patient visit to their physician is becoming increasingly important in the current time-sensitive environment of modern medicine. Dr. Gordon, in this highly practical and eminently readable book, provides a most useful guide for navigating before, during, and after that visit. In a step-by-step brass-tacks approach, Dr. Gordon outlines 1) how patients should optimally present the history of their illness, and 2) how patients should ask questions in order to obtain the most useful information in a timely manner. Med School 101 elevates the quality of the medical office visit to a higher level by emphasizing the importance of an effective partnership between patient and physician in today’s medicine, all with an eye toward improving patient care.
Frederick H. Lovejoy Jr., MD
William Berenberg Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School
Boston Children’s Hospital
Introduction and Orientation to Today’s Medicine
This book is the product of several years of medical practice experiences. Each day while interacting with patients, one notices very different patient styles. Some patients prefer to be totally receptive to the doctor’s thoughts, with few or no questions asked. Other patients ask a multitude of questions.
Each day I am struck by a particularly crisp, succinct question from a patient. Some questions are so well thought out and so well phrased that I compliment the patient with an unofficial “Honorary MD Award.” The idea is to reward their logic and quest for knowledge as an essential step in the best possible office visit. They have elevated the visit to a high level of information exchange.
As health care providers, our goal is to ensure the health of all patients and help them to understand their illness along the way. As we work with patients, we notice that some patients are highly motivated to uncover the correct diagnosis and therapy.
Why can’t all patients have the experience of an exceptional office visit? This book was written with the goal of helping all patients derive the maximum medical benefit through understanding the process and logic behind the office visit.
Why Read This Guide Now?
Modern medicine encompasses a massive amount of data derived by multiple caregivers.
Physical findings, test results, imaging studies, medication data—the amount of information entered into the electronic medical record is continuously growing. The types and numbers of health care workers are also growing: nurses, specialists, pharmacists, physical therapists. The net result is that the amount of medical information for a specific patient has grown exponentially. The volume of information is so large that it can be difficult to coordinate and prioritize the importance of a specific data point for a specific patient. At the same time, the ability to identify which parts of the data are significant is an essential skill for unlocking the true nature of a patient’s illness.
Medicine has to be delivered in a highly efficient manner these days.
Due to reimbursement cutbacks, many physicians are having difficulty paying their overhead and keeping their practices open. Therefore, they must see more patients in a shorter amount of time.
Your first reaction to the present medical environment might be that you, the patient, could be shortchanged by this setting. This book is intended to help you respond to this changing landscape by understanding how you can help yourself receive better outcomes within these shorter visits.
Such a condensed medical office visit can be just as productive as a longer visit. However, you the patient must ensure that your essential questions are answered and unknown aspects are identified.
Your personal time with your health care professional comes down to a matter of a few minutes: perhaps just ten or fifteen minutes. Everything that happens during this session is important: how you have prepared (or not prepared) for the session, what records you have kept regarding your illness, what questions you will ask, and what education regarding your condition you expect to receive from your caregiver.