A Family Practice Physician recently spoke to a group I was in. He underscored the importance of follow-up questions, even when they seem irrelevant or off-topic.
The example he used was asking a patient, “Do you smoke?” and if their answer is “no,” the danger of moving on to the next issue.
He said providers were “missing opportunities for follow up questions” that could reveal clinically important information. Even though the patient said they did not smoke, they may have smoked in the past. Their family members may smoke. All of this matters.
Maybe your follow-up game is strong. But…
- Do you get tongue-tied asking patients questions on topics of sex or sexuality, especially if it’s not central to your everyday work?
- Do you feel awkward, asking about religion or spirituality?
- Or maybe you know the question you want to ask, but you don’t quite know how to word it.
- Maybe you want to get out of a question-asking rut.
- Perhaps you’d just like a quick refresher, because you know questions are powerful learning tools for you and your patient.
You already know that asking questions can reveal clinically and culturally important information.
The right questions can give you a more rounded view of the patient. The more you know about what’s going on in your patient’s life, the better you can move forward together with care that meets them where they’re at.
Maybe these are second nature to you; maybe not. Either way, I gotcha covered!
Here’s 25 different ways to elicit information from a patient.
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