“My Doctor Doesn’t Listen to Me…”: 3 Ways to Manage This Experience

One complaint I hear about in healthcare is we (as practitioners) don’t have the appropriate amount of TIME to help you with your diabetes the way you need. It’s a legitimate complaint. Our healthcare system in the United States is mainly set up to focus on quantity over quality.

Although there is an active shift in healthcare to change from quantity to quality, providers are still asked to see a large number of patients and have few staff resources to help them follow up with plans of care.

Some barriers you may experience with providers

Providers may make a change in your treatment plan, but may not be able to see you again for 3-6 months to evaluate if those changes are working for you. Other barriers to feel heard by your provider can be stigmas about your weight or diabetes diagnosis. Unfortunately, there are still providers who write off higher blood sugars as your fault.

Three ways to advocate for yourself in your appointments

While this can be frustrating and feel hopeless, all is not lost. We can’t fix the system in the short term, but there are three things you can do to be an advocate for yourself during your appointments. This will help to combat the experience of being unable to connect with your provider, or help get your provider to listen to you and your needs.

1. Come prepared to appointments

Have your provider order labs (and get them done) BEFORE your next appointment. Look at the results prior to the appointment, and write down any questions or concerns you have about them. Ask yourself what’s working, and what’s not, for your diabetes management plan. Ask yourself, "What one thing needs to happen at my appointment for me to feel it was a success?" Make asking about that one thing a priority when you get that time with your provider.

Being prepared brings a totally different vibe to appointments because you’re more likely to build a partnership with your provider over time. For that specific appointment, you’ll be able to maximize the small amount of time you have with your provider. And, you’ll be less likely to leave feeling unsure about changes made to your plan which could lower your chance of medical errors.

2. Be honest about your needs

If you’ve tried the first option, and still feel you’re not getting anywhere, try being open and honest with your provider. Ask for a longer appointment to be scheduled next time if you have a concern about time. If you’re concerned about follow-up after a medication change or a worrisome lab result, ask directly when these things will be re-addressed. Sometimes the follow-up appointment can be too far out for your liking.

Ask who you can follow up with in the provider's office via phone in the time frame that feels comfortable for you. Or, ask if you can make a follow-up appointment with your regular provider for that specific reason. Finally, be honest about not feeling heard. Maybe your provider doesn’t realize how they are coming across to you.

3. Use other healthcare services to support you

While some healthcare professionals are on a tight time schedule, others have the flexibility to see you for longer periods. For example, certified diabetes care and education specialists (CDCESs) often spend double the amount of time with you, or more! Not only can they help you with your diabetes management, but they regularly help advocate for you to your provider. Other professionals may be care coordinators, pharmacists, registered dietitians, and therapists.

When it comes to getting your needs met by your providers, it's important for you to advocate for your needs! The providers are ultimately here to help you on your diabetes journey.

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