Note: I am NOT asking for medical advice. Just wish to know effective way to communicate with Dr.

I accompany my Dad to his Dr's appointments. He's 70-something years young, and has difficulty expressing himself (English is 2nd language, plus he had head injury 20 years ago)

I can visually explain things, better than verbal.

Totally understand that Doctors are constrained on time.

On one hand, several Doctors are impressed by the visuals (one even showed his medical students on two occassions)

On the other hand, I feel I am not communicating effectively because my Dad is still having medical issues.

How do I improve these visuals so they are understandable at a glance and patient gets treated?

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  • Moderators don't modify to fit guidelines. You do. I think your question is a ultimately a request for medical advice, but if I were going to answer it I'd say delete about 80% of what you have. You're burying them with details that probably don't matter. Focus on the important issues affecting him now.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 14, 2018 at 5:41
  • @CareyGregory I was NOT asking for medical advice. I was asking for clearest way to communicate issues with Doctor. As a courtesy I posted "moderators feel free to modify"
    – Rhonda
    Jan 14, 2018 at 12:14
  • @LangLangC ok, I will clean up text, use orderly fonts (will type instead of hand-write), and text in bold for current problems. Of course I was concerned about overwhelming Doctor with too much info. Yes, you are right, these visuals help me understand my Dad's conditions.
    – Rhonda
    Jan 14, 2018 at 12:19
  • @LangLangC Thank you for pointing out Senna toxicity. I had feeling that something was missing with these visuals, and it's info like this that us buried in plain site. Thank you.
    – Rhonda
    Jan 14, 2018 at 12:21
  • 2
    A table is a good idea. But include EVERY medication and herbal supplement and cream and powder and EVERY type of treatment that he takes - everything he takes/uses is important to know, even if not prescribed. @LangLangC I'd be careful of how that advice was phrased, as well as regarding Senna. Senna as a stimulant has a medical use for motility problems, but can have toxicity long term especially if someone uses it for constipation that isn't a motility problem. When you make the table, list by name. Include amount, what times of day he takes it, and when he started / who prescribed it.
    – DoctorWhom
    Jan 14, 2018 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


Using these "visuals" is mostly a way for you to better understand and present the situation and condition of the patient. These preparations should help you to have everything ready and accessible when asked for by your doctor.

The first problem with these pictures is indeed that they are a first draw and that they might get streamlined into a cleaner illustration. That means having printed text in a consistent design.

The anatomical aspects are only helpful to you, an analog watch seems unnecessary, so from an cognitive ergonomics perspective (your UX part) I'd separate this onto the left side of a two facing pages design.

It depends on many different things how well this will go: first thing to consider is the practitioner you visit and her preferences. Some really do not like being buried in details while others delight in as much detail as is possible and really devour files and information presented in that style.

Prepare two identical brochures. One for you, one to present the doctor. She may then chose to use it or to ignore it and you can still refer to it in your answers to the anamnestic questions she will have on top of what you present to her.

That style is the key part here:

Doctors are trained to make the best of their and your time to cut to the chase efficiently and effectively. Taking a medical history and proceeding to diagnosis to arrive at a possible treatment.

The doctor chooses to read through the stuff you have prepared not only based on her preferences, but also on the current situation and setting. But further, how well presented your info is. That means two different but interconnected things:

  1. Follow the guidelines other doctors or institutions use in what to include, when to include and where to include it in the flow of information.
  2. Choose a consistent layout with a clear hierarchy of information to present (headlines, paragraphs etc.; aim for minimalism).

One example is in the Wikipedia article, since it is not really suited to this case, there are others to orient your file design and content on. Another might go as follows:

  • S Symptoms: especially pain and discomfort. When did it start, what hurts, where does it hurt, how did it proceed, how long, how intense did it hurt etc.
  • A Allergies: known, confirmed or suspected
  • M Medications: This includes really everything he takes or took: prescribed meds as well as self-chosen over the counter meds, supplements, unusual dietary habits or ingredients. These need to be clearly listed in one place, possibly ordered in tables if they are many. Every medication, every supplement, herb, vitamin, mineral. (Everything that has an effect likely has side effects and maybe interactions.)

  • P Patient's history: Prior illnesses and conditions, previous diagnosis or treatments. For example hypertension, diabetes, operations etc.
  • L Last…: meals, hospitalisation, episode of illness etc.
  • E Event: What is new, what changed, what happened recently to arrive at the current situation
  • R Risks: known problems likely to occur but not listed above.

The written information is absolutely king and if it is presented well, everybody (including you, when asked by the doctor for just one specific thing) should be able to skip those parts that may be currently irrelevant. Be consistent in how you compile these things.


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