Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

We’ve all been there: hunting for a new provider. We may be unhappy with the one we currently have, or perhaps a new insurance plan isn’t accepted, demanding a switch. Change can be difficult as we try to familiarize ourselves with a new provider, office staff, and avenues of communication. This change can be especially hard when living with a chronic disease.

Patients no longer want to be told what to do, rather “they want to be partners in their health.” Let’s face it, chronic illnesses are largely self-managed diseases with infrequent check-ins; good providers are those capable of viewing the doctor/patient relationship in this light.

It’s a relationship

People understandably have individualized preferences when it comes to connecting with a provider. There’s a mixed bag of talents out there, and finding a suitable match means taking inventory of what’s important to you.

A peeve of mine is when providers chart on the computer during my appointment because I don’t feel like they’re listening to me. On the flip side, I like someone who’s tech savvy and available for questions via email. A positive personality is the most important part of my wish list, but of course you have to pick and choose the attributes that are most important to you. You most likely won’t be able to find absolutely everything you want in a provider.

As a nurse, I often note the critical issue of keeping humanness alive in medicine as technology takes over the bedside. According to USA Today, we may point to technology and pharmaceuticals “as the life support” in healthcare, “but it is, in fact, the relationships nurses and other caregivers forge that are one of the most powerful therapeutic tools in healthcare.”

The emotional impact of heart conditions

Effective providers are sensitive to both the physical and emotional stressors that heart conditions place on people.

The psychological impact of serious heart conditions can be substantial, and you can't suffer through it alone. You may feel that a certain doctor provides you the psychological and emotional support you need better than another.

People adherent to treatment plans when they understand them and when they work. You're also more eager to follow a regimen when you understand the risks versus benefits, and when success seems attainable with the help of your support team.

At the very heart of this is the patient-doctor relationship. People who are satisfied with their relationship with their healthcare providers have better adherence to regimens, equating to better outcomes.

What are we looking for in a healthcare provider?

Empathy – A sense of caring and understanding goes a long way in medicine.
Good bedside manner – How a provider interacts at the bedside occupies a first-place status according to
Connectedness – Providers that are connected to their patients via phone, email, social media and other organic ways such as eye contact, the human touch, and a listening ear are valued for those traits.
Problem solving skills – Thinking outside of the box and connecting the dots doesn’t come easily to everyone; the ability to recognize the interconnectedness of health issues makes for a prized provider.
Time management skills – Even if they don’t have extra time on their hands, some providers are able to settle in, listen, and make a difference in the little time they do have. Nothing is worse than having an appointment with a provider that has an obvious foot out the door the entire time.
Technological competence – The technological face of medicine is changing and some providers have yet to catch up.

Heart conditions are typically self-managed and demand autonomy. However, there needs to be collaborative care between you and your provider in order to help you understand your heart condition and set goals to manage it.

When looking for a provider, don’t settle for less than you deserve; your health depends upon it.

To learn more about your healthcare team:

Going to the Doctor? Why You Need to Take a Friend
7 Tips to Help You Talk to Your Doctor about a Second Opinion
Talking to Your Doctor: Deciding When, How – and If – to Speak Up