Skip to main content

Season 3 | Episode 12 Bonus Content

One Thing Today: Green Flags

When it comes to any relationship, it takes two people to make it work — and a doctor-patient relationship is no different.

June 20, 2023 | 11 minutes


We look at how you can create or improve a relationship with your doctor by talking with guests from both sides: Dr. Maria Hale from Optum and Omase Lassey, a patient.

Speaker 1: Welcome back to another bonus episode of Until It's Fixed. I'm Kelly Chamberlain.

Speaker 2: And I'm Dr. Kenny Poole.

Speaker 1: As we cover ways to make healthcare work better for everyone, these bonus episodes will draw connections between the topic we recently discussed and our daily lives.

Speaker 2: We'll talk about one thing you and I can do today related to that topic, to take charge of our health and wellbeing. So in our last episode, we spoke with Dr. Sue Ree from Healthgrade about how having a doctor [00:00:30] you trust and who listens to you can make a real difference in your health.

Speaker 1: Yeah, that's right. Kenny and your doctor might not work for you. And what that means might look different for different people,

Speaker 2: No matter the reason why. It's certainly okay for you to switch doctors if you feel that you aren't getting what you need out of the relationship or if you're not comfortable. And I think that a lot of times people overthink this step. They think that logistically it's something that's difficult to do, or there may be some [00:01:00] hurt feelings on the side of the doctor, but from a physician perspective, we want you to advocate for yourself.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I think that makes sense. And as a patient, I wanna be with a provider that is gonna listen to me, that I feel supported by, that I feel like is invested in my health and wellbeing. To help us learn more about the importance of a good doctor patient relationship, we wanted to look at both sides. First, we talked with someone in the field, Dr. Maria Hale. Maria works as Chief patient Experience Officer for Optum Tri-State, [00:01:30] where she is focused on improving the connection between patients and providers. Let's listen in.

Speaker 2: Thank you. I'm really excited to have you on.

Speaker 3: Oh, I'm thrilled to be here. You know, I'm a big fan of the show.

Speaker 2: Love it. So can you tell us more about your work at Optum?

Speaker 3: I'm the Chief Patient Experience Officer. So many times when I explain that people like, okay, what does a chief patient experience officer do? And the great part about my role [00:02:00] is I have the opportunity to really have conversations with providers across Optum to understand what's top of mind for them. What are some of the best practices that they're doing to connect with patients and create great experiences, but also what are some of the opportunities where they could really use help or assistance to be able to create even better experiences? And through that build programs and services [00:02:30] and initiatives that will help them best connect to the people we're serving every day.

Speaker 2: Thanks for explaining that. So speaking of creating good experiences, when people prepare for a visit with a new doctor, what are some of the things they should do to set themselves up for success?

Speaker 3: So when I'm talking to patients about being truly empowered and to really have a trusting relationship with their doctors, and especially if it's the first time that they're meeting that doctor, it's really [00:03:00] important that they do their own research. Take a minute to peruse that doctor's bio, see what you can learn from them from their website, and make a connection. If you've sought that doctor because they maybe are trained in some particular area, let them know that, right? Say, I saw that you have a specialty in this, and that's really important to me and this is why. To be able to make those connections early really helps. The [00:03:30] next thing I always say to patients is, take some time to write down what's important to you to communicate to that doctor. You have a small amount of time to be able to express what's top of mind for you.

Speaker 3: So the way to do that is to make your list ahead of time and be clear about what it is that you've been thinking about. What have been some concerns that maybe you've been pushing to the back of your mind? Now's the time to jot them down. Has there been any life changes [00:04:00] that you've had or experienced? Maybe you've changed a job recently and that's been causing stress, or there's some other kind of life change that occurred that maybe might be impacting how you're feeling. So mm-hmm. <affirmative>, those are important things in addition to your medical history and your family history. Yeah. For that doctor to know, because they want to get to know you, the whole you as much as they can so that they can best help you.

Speaker 2: Yeah. What's important [00:04:30] to you and what's going on in your life. Those are the things that we need. Yes. Those are the things that really drive a strong relationship, a good experience. You're

Speaker 3: So right on with this. And what I find when I talk to patients is the doctors really wanna understand who you are and how you see yourself. What is health and wellness for you? What brings you joy? What do you like to do on a regular basis? They want to get to know who you are as a person. This is a relationship. [00:05:00] This isn't a transaction, right? We're not in a transaction business, we're in the relationship business. So all of us need to come to the table to be able to foster that trusting relationship. So the doctor needs to bring to the table that they're here, they're present, they're interested, they're listening. They're asking questions to get as much information as they can about who you are and what your goals are for your care. [00:05:30] And you as a patient have to come also ready to contribute to that relationship so that it works together. It's not a one way street in healthcare. You know, I always tell patients, physicians are an expert in medicine and you are an expert in you, so you need to come together to make that relationship happen.

Speaker 2: I love it. And you left us with a tagline that's memorable. Well, Maria, this is extremely helpful. [00:06:00] Thank you for being a part of this.

Speaker 3: You're very welcome. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2: And looking at the other side of the doctor patient relationship, we talked with Oma Lasi, a patient who shares what matters to her.

Speaker 1: So thank you so much for being here. Ooma. Can you tell us a little bit about the experience that you had with the medical system?

Speaker 4: Well, I'm coming from Nigeria. It's completely different. Being in America and being a person [00:06:30] of color and trying to find that doctor. You just come with the intention of not knowing. You just think, okay, this is how things is supposed to be, or this is how things are done. I've had experiences where it didn't work for me because there was no patient-doctor relationship or compatibility.

Speaker 1: Can you share a little bit more about what you're looking for in a relationship and what compatibility means to you?

Speaker 4: Um, compatibility to me means communication. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, empathy, [00:07:00] kindness. Uh, when I work in your office, do I feel like a number or do I feel like I'm coming to a safe place? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like they say, if you know, you know, and that was something I continuously looked for and checked for in my providers. Like, can I come back here? Do I have that confidence that I'm not just being treated as a number? Or am I being treated as someone who has come with a problem and wants a solution? You know, that kindness. Do you remember me [00:07:30] when I come? I mean, you see a lot of people, but do you take a few minutes out to sit in your office and say, okay, this person's been here before. I know where we left off the last time that they were here. That kind of relationship shows empathy.

Speaker 4: Mm-hmm. <affirmative> shows that you listen to me, you know, those are the kind of things I look out for. I don't go for red flags, I go for green flags. And my green flag is communication. Once I found my provider, I think our conversation started off, oh, I ain't asking where you from? And I was like, oh, I'm Nigerian. [00:08:00] You know? And then we talk, what do you do? How long have you been here? You know, it felt like welcoming. Mm-hmm. Because I felt like you are interested in knowing, okay, there's a distinguish of my accent. Yeah. And you hear it means you are listening. That's my green flag. Do you listen? Can I communicate with you? When she walks in the door, she's very, you know, Hey, how you doing? When last you go back home? You know, that kind of relationship or something for me as an immigrant and a person of color that builds like confidence [00:08:30] that I was dealing with someone that cared or listened to me, not just listen to like why I'm here.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And I love the green flags. What advice do you have for someone who might wanna look for a new doctor?

Speaker 4: Trust your instincts. Because again, if you know, you know, once you find that doctor, you can tell by your intuition. By your instinct.

Speaker 1: Yeah. That makes sense. Thank you so much for joining us. [00:09:00] That was a great conversation with Ossi.

Speaker 2: And you know, I think Maria brought up really good points as well in terms of a good patient experience.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And we also wanna note that not everyone might have the ability to switch providers. So it really is dependent on so many things, like the kind of care you need, where you live, the type of coverage that you have available, impact your ability to see different doctors, Dr. Pool. From a provider perspective, if you're not able to find a different doctor [00:09:30] and you feel like the relationship you have with your current provider is okay, but you wanna improve it as a patient, what would you recommend?

Speaker 2: I think it's important to raise concerns. And the concern doesn't have to be confrontational. It doesn't have to be anything anxiety provoking. Mm-hmm. And it doesn't even have to be direct. There's multiple people on the care team. And so a lot of times you can go to the physician or the provider's medical assistant or their nurse or somebody at the front desk [00:10:00] and just say, Hey, these are some things that I'm concerned about. Or a lot of times you can even tell a loved one that can then advocate on your behalf to somebody on the care team. And that way, you know, again, everybody can have the appropriate conversations and try to get on the right foot.

Speaker 1: Got it. That makes sense. And you mentioned an advocate too. So I think that's a good additional step that a patient can take to support themselves, is to bring someone else into the doctor's office with them to make sure that there's another voice amplifying what the patient is looking for. [00:10:30] So hopefully, if you're not able to make a switch with your provider, those things can support you in developing a better relationship. Because like you said, Kenny, doctors have a vested interest in making sure that their patients feel comfortable and that things are going well between both parties. Thank you again for listening, and join us next week as we discuss and demystify something that affects both men and women, fertility and infertility. Make sure to follow or subscribe wherever you listen so you can get notified when a new episode is live. Catch you next time.