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Friday, February 23, 2007

Her doctor’s survey led to a discussion: Partnering with your doctor

Our problems can be complicated, but doctors’ appointments are short. Often important complaints don’t even get mentioned. As a solution, some doctors use a ten-minute web survey, “How’s Your Health,” developed by Dr. John Wasson of Dartmouth Medical School. The survey leads many patients to indicate, up-front, signs of trouble that they often wouldn’t discuss during the short face-to-face visit. The answers form a snapshot that gives the doctor a head start before the patient sets foot in the doctor’s office.

About a year ago, Susan Arazy filled out a survey, and scheduled an appointment for a sore throat. Her primary care doctor saw on her latest health snapshot from the survey that she wasn’t following a healthy diet or exercising enough. This was especially important because of her diabetes. The snapshot triggered a discussion with her doctor of her lifestyle and habits, prompting her to join Weight Watchers and lose 35 pounds.

Advice for patients looking for a new primary care provider: Ask whether the doctor uses the survey or other electronic methods so that the limited appointment time with you will be most helpful to you.

Read about another diabetes patient story, or read Gautam Naik’s article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

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