Watch CBSN Live

Diagnosing Your Doctor

 Patients are taking the lead when it comes to their health care. Dr. Michael Magee, co-author of The Best Medicine: Doctors, Patients and the Covenant of Caring, has outlined key ways for patients to diagnose their relationship with their doctor.

The trust and confidence necessary for a good dialogue between patient and doctor is inspired by a healthy relationship between them. There are a number of ways to improve that rapport, Dr. Magee tells Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel.

Dr. Magee's book is composed of profiles of 25 different healthy doctor-patient relationships, which he hopes will "inspire and instruct people to let them know that while there are problems in today's changing health care system, there's a lot that is going on that's good," he says.

  • Doctors should act with the highest professional competency, master communications skills, allow patients to share ideas and help formulate priorities, acknowledge patients as full persons with their lives as context and respect fellow professionals to avoid losing credibility.

  • Patients should be truthful, give the relationship time to develop, take responsibility for learning about health care choices, assume responsibility for their overall health and raise issues of concern with their doctor.
Dr. Magee says there are a few simple questions to ask while diagnosing a relationship with your doctor. "The most important thing," he explains, "is to have a good match with the person that you're teamed up with."

Does your doctor:

  1. Listen or simply hear you?
  2. Really know you?
  3. Speak your language?
  4. Respect you as a person?
  5. Make you feel better?
And what do you do if you come up with negative answers?

"The first thing to do is share with the doctor those answers," advises Dr. Magee, who says that patients don't speak up as often as they should. "As a result, a doctor can't grow and evolve and become a better doctor. It's very important, just as in a marriage, to open communication and to share with your doctor the problems that you're facing."

If such communication does not lead to better care, he adds, then it might be time to look for a better match.

Such an approach may seem idealistic, given the constraints imposed by most HMOs, but Dr. Magee says it is actually very practical.

"If, in fact, this is a relationship and not a transaction, not an ATM machine transaction, we owe it to each other to expect the best," he adds. "You can only do that if the doctor is listening carefully, and the patient is speaking honestly and truthfully and expressing problems as they arrive in real time."
©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue