Flip No. 79

Humanizing Health Care

A single question can help clinicians better understand their patients’ needs.

By Kathy Cummings, Joann Foreman, Michael Gionfriddo, Wilhelmina Holder, Jen Kleven, Alison Knutson, Ian Prinsloo, Jan Schuerman

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: Minneapolis

Going to the doctor can be a very impersonal experience. Too often, patients are asked only about their symptoms and not their lives. Furthermore, clinicians don’t always have an easy way to learn about a patient’s values or the larger context of their health issues.

But a simple question at the beginning of each visit could help clinicians address the problem. When patients come in for a visit, staff members can ask, “What do you most want me to know about you?” This question gives clinicians an opportunity to ask for and listen to patient concerns. And by hearing the factors that impact a patient’s health, clinicians will be better equipped to include the patient’s needs into the the patient’s health plan. By asking purposeful questions at the beginning of a visit, clinicians and patients can work together to create patient goals and plans that might increase satisfaction and compliance.