IMPORTANT: Keep Your Provider Directory Information Current to Protect Your Network Status. Learn more

Talking to Your Patients About Their Medications

With the ever-increasing emphasis on patient-centered care, several industry organizations recommend that physicians have detailed conversations with patients about their medications.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine offers a simple, easy-to-remember, three-step process to begin these conversations:

  • Choice: Begin the conversation by explaining what choices are available.
  • Option: Provide detailed information about each option, making sure to cover both the benefits and limitations.
  • Discussion: Explore preferences and answer questions.

The two most important things you can do:

  • Use plain language and avoid medical jargon.
  • Ask the patient to repeat what you’ve said in his or her own words.

Sometimes, patients may need extra time to consider the options before deciding. They may want to talk with a trusted friend or family member. Or they may want to do additional research on their own.

Shared decision making has benefits for you and your patients. Treatments are better understood, patients have more accurate expectations of both good and bad consequences, and there is better adherence to treatment.

While having these conversations may be challenging due to patients’ low health literacy, time constraints, and cultural or language barriers, they build positive relationships and strengthen trust, experts say. Initiating this conversation shows that physicians value the patient’s concerns and preferences.

And doing so demonstrates that physicians respect the patient’s ability to make informed decisions.