Slowing Down the Conversation

We were pleasantly surprised when Patient Voices Network partner Claire Snyman shared a video about “What Matters to You?” last week:

Claire was kind enough to answer some of our questions about her video and her experience being asked about what matters.

How did you get your t-shirt?

I attended the webinar in April and was one of the attendees who was given a free t-shirt. When it arrived there was a note that asked us to send a photo, but I decided to do a video. I love video, I find it quite interactive. They’re a great way to engage people.

What did you think of the virtual launch webinar?

I was really inspired by the webinar, especially Anders Vege from Norway. It really got me thinking about that shift he discussed, from asking, “What’s the matter with you” to “What matters to you.” I’m a big believer in quality of life and for me that really resonated.

That question is really important for both patients and health care providers, because it slows down the conversation. I think that’s important because we get caught up in getting patients through the door, it’s busy and frenetic, but what matters to you is really key. So I actually thought I wanted to talk about it, rather than just making a post, in a video.

Has someone ever asked you what matters in a health care appointment?

Yes I have! It was asked of me after my brain surgerywhen I was in recovery. Recovery was was quite a long process, and I was asked what my key goals were going forward in my recovery. Like, what would be the most important thing for me to be able to achieve?

For me, the most important thing was to get back a sense of normalcy and not be so tired and so fatigued all the time. I appreciated that question. It wasn’t about headaches, or the other symptoms – it was about me as a person. It was about what I needed to feel happy and recovered.

What are some other things that doctors can do to “slow down the conversation” with patients?

Sometimes it’s just asking patients, “Do you have any questions you would like to ask me?”

Patients often feel like they can’t necessarily ask their health care team questions. Having a doctor open that communication up and say, “Ask me any questions that might make you feel more at ease with your treatment plan” – that really starts the conversation about what matters.

For patients, you really need to have thought those through. If you have a medical appointment, always go in with a couple of questions written down on a piece of paper. I know it’s like being a deer in the headlights, I always forget my questions if I don’t have them written down. Your brain is trying to remember all the things they told you during the appointment, and it’s easy to forget everything until you walk out, and then you remember all these things you wanted to ask.

Thank you Claire! Claire Snyman is an author, blogger and advocate for patient and health care collaboration. This was sparked by her personal journey with a brain tumor and brain surgery. Learn more about Claire at her website, Two Steps Forward.