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A stethoscope laying on a surface in the shape of a chat bubble. Under the stethoscope is another chat bubble coming from the other direction.

Six Tips to Support Doctor-Patient Relationships

I have wondered why some of us have excellent relationships with our doctors, and others find them not helpful, pushy or, even worse, uncaring. All human interactions are at least a two-part interaction. For the doctor-patient relationship, I believe there are six things we can control that will help this interaction to be smooth and productive.

Tips to support doctor-patient relationsips

  1. Follow through on what you agreed on at the last meeting or admit we did not know at the beginning. Doctors are our consultants. We hire them for their expertise. They advise and we must either reject or follow through with their advice. But they cannot know we are not following the plan unless we say so.
  2. Track our results. I hate tracking my results. Those darn multi-part questionnaires that I fill out every month, week or day that tell me how bad or good things are going. But if you complete the survey and take the results to the doctor’s visit, you will be taken more seriously. Instead of how you are feeling and saying “OK” or not, you can point to specific data to make your case. Most doctors love data instead of saying I do not feel right, data is very persuasive.
  3. If you do not understand the treatment, say so. Many people do not want to look like they do not understand the doctor when treatment is prescribed. But because of shyness, they do not tell them. It is vital that if we do not know what the doctor is telling us to do that we speak up.
  4. Be positive. Human interaction is about relationship, and if we enter the appointment in a defensive mode, we will likely find the doctor defensive with us. Do you know that one person in your life that no matter what you do, you cannot seem to get along with? Chances are you do not look forward to seeing that person.  Doctors are no different. Once positivity is gone between the two of you, it seems that inevitably the entirety of the relationship is compromised.
  5. Treat the staff with respect. Oh, I get so upset when I have to deal with the multiple gatekeepers in a practice. From the scheduler to the nurse, I cannot understand why I cannot seem to communicate with some parts of the doctor’s office. Scheduling is usually straightforward; talking to a nurse, when you are playing phone tag, is frustrating to me. The people in the office, with the exception of the nurse, are likely barely making a living. So, treat them with respect. When we fail to give respect, we inevitably cause ourselves poor treatment. Most practices are small enough that if you have a poor relationship with a clerk, that interaction will reflect on us, and our level of service will decline.
  6. Laugh. I know this is my typical suggestion about interacting with a doctor. I refuse to see a doctor unless he or she can appreciate humor in our relationship. Life is too short, and health care is too important not to include a heavy dose of laughter. For me, no relationship works if it is devoid of laughter. That includes my relationships with a medical practice.

It has been my experience that following these six general rules will improve interactions with our doctors. It will allow us to focus on what is important to us and not all the junk that gets in the way of a positive outcome. I know sometimes I get frustrated with my doctors but, when I do, I ask myself which of these points I need to address. Usually, I can improve one or more to help my situation.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jo J
    1 month ago

    When things are not going well, I give my symptoms and tell my doc straight up – “I need your help.” or ask “Can you help me?”

    I also thank all staff members at the end of our interactions.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator author
    1 month ago

    Jo J, thank you for commenting,

    I believe that staff members are usually the key to getting the most out of our doctors. I find that the best thing I do is acknowledge the office staff, call them by name if possible and say thank you a lot. 🙂

    rick – moderator

  • Sassy1944
    1 month ago

    I totally agree with the above. When we lose the ability to laugh with and care for those treating us we become compromised in our own caring for others. That to me is the everlasting joy in each day, truly caring about another human being if only in a small interaction. It’s what makes us human beings. And also helps me to focus on something other than what is hurting that day. I find that going outward and not inward helps me forget about the pain I might be feeling. Know that might sound preachy, however, it always works for me. When I am alone I tend to concentrate on what hurts.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator author
    1 month ago


    Thank you so much for the kind comment. I believe laughing is the most underestimated way to interact with others. I know I prefer it when people laugh as opposed to yelling at me. By the way, I get plenty of yelling, and laughter is so much more fun.

    rick – moderator.

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