Dr. Ann Bass is a neurologist in San Antonio, Texas and has been in practice for more than 20 years. She specializes in MS, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons. She believes in the positive impact of good relations between healthcare providers and patients.
As a practicing neurologist for more than 20 years, I know how important it is for people with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) to feel like their doctor understands their individual concerns and needs. To build a successful relationship with my patients, I often suggest 3 key tips: get personal, open up, and keep track of your MS.
An important first step in the doctor-patient relationship is ensuring your doctor has the full picture of your health to provide the most appropriate treatment plan for your relapsing MS. I always start my first consultation with a host of questions that give me a strong understanding of a patient’s medical history, family dynamics, and lifestyle behaviors and choices. My hope is that this dialogue will open the door to an honest discussion about how to manage MS in a way that makes the most sense for that individual.
I also encourage people with relapsing MS to speak up about their specific health concerns and be their own advocates, because no one knows your body better than you do. Similar to how I try to get a sense of all aspects of a patient when we first meet, I really appreciate when patients come to my office with their own list of questions for me to answer. I encourage my patients to continue asking questions at every visit, especially since MS is often unpredictable and symptoms can change over time. Once diagnosed, MS is a lifelong journey, so the more we can partner together, the better chance we have to effectively manage your condition over the course of many years.
Keep a journal
I’ve found that journals are a great way for people with relapsing MS to document and keep track of their physical and emotional symptoms. During their visits, we are then able to review their journals together, talk about new or recurring symptoms—including their frequency and severity—and understand what other factors may have contributed to their occurrence. This allows us to decide if we need to adjust their care plan, and ensures that we are engaging in clear communication.
MS can be challenging, but by saying yes to the right care and finding your best (doctor) match, it hopefully can become a little less difficult to navigate.
Dr. Ann Bass is a paid spokesperson for Biogen. Please note that Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate) is not indicated to treat the symptoms of MS.