Health Watch/Portage Health/Todd Anderson/Family Medicine Provider

There’s nothing more important in a relationship than open and honest communication. While that’s a general truth for all relationships, it’s even more dynamic and significant when it comes to a patient-doctor relationship. That’s something I like to keep in mind, and frequently remind my patients.

Since arriving in the Copper Country in August, I’ve been hard at work building relationships with patients. The fresh start with some patients has been refreshing, as I’ve had many conversations with patients of all ages regarding health.

These conversations are vital to establishing a good baseline for healthcare, and something everyone should do. For anyone who doesn’t have a primary care provider, I’d highly suggest that you spend time researching your options locally, and schedule an appointment sometime in early 2014.

Even if you’re healthy presently, it’s important to begin that relationship with your provider. Actually, it might be more important to start that relationship now. By doing that, you and your provider can begin a lifelong journey together that includes proactive steps to naturally lower your risks.

For those unsure what to look for in a doctor, some things I like to suggest:

Look for someone you would be comfortable talking to about issues very personal to you.

Look for someone you can trust with your information.

Look for someone with the training and expertise needed to appropriately understand and diagnose whatever health concerns you have.

Look for someone who will be a good listener. This is especially important early on in your patient-doctor relationship.

Look for someone that you could see yourself working with for a number of years moving forward.

Once you have found a provider that fits your needs, and you’ve made the appointment, the next step is the most important. Your first appointment is a great opportunity to establish a meaningful relationship. Right now, I’m working with a lot of patients who are just starting their patient-doctor relationship, and there’s a lot I’ve learned from this abundance of new patients. Below are some of the most important things I’d suggest to anyone beginning a relationship with a new primary care provider.

Prepare for the first appointment. Write down your previous health issues/concerns so they can be discussed, prepare a list of medications you take and write down any current concerns you have so you don’t forget to discuss them at the first appointment.

Honesty is absolutely crucial to the entire patient-doctor relationship. It’s impossible for your provider to effectively treat you if you’re holding back information.

No question is too small. If something has been on your mind, don’t hesitate to bring it up. When it comes to your health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The New Year has arrived. If you don’t have a primary care provider, or if you’re looking for a fresh start with someone new, I hope you take the calendar turning as a sign to take a proactive step forward with your healthcare. Start that relationship, and remember to make an appointment each year, even if you’re in great health.

Editor’s note:?Dr. Todd Anderson is a board certified family medicine provider who serves the Copper Country at the Portage Health University Center clinic in Houghton.