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Communicate with Health Care Providers

Every time you talk with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, use the Ask Me 3 questions to better understand your health.

The Ask Me 3 questions are designed to help you take better care of your health.

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

Tips for clear health communication

Here are a few tips you can try:

  • I will ask the 3 questions.
  • I will bring a friend or family member to help me at my doctor visit.
  • I will make a list of my health concerns to tell my doctor or nurse.
  • I will bring a list of all my medicines when I visit my doctor or nurse.
  • I will ask my pharmacist for help when I have questions about my medicines.

Your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist want you to get the information you need to care for your health. To remind yourself what you need to do and the questions you can ask at your next medical visit, view or print this worksheet (1-page PDF).

When to ask questions

  • You can ask questions when:
  • You see your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
  • You prepare for a medical test or procedure.
  • You get your medicine.

Who needs to ask?

  • Everyone wants help with health information.
  • Asking questions helps you understand how to stay well or to get better.
  • You don't need to feel rushed or embarrassed if you don't understand something.
  • You can ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist as many times as you need to.
  • You are not alone if you find things confusing at times.

What if I ask and still don't understand?

  • Let your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist know if you still don't understand what you need to do.
  • You might say, "This is new to me. Will you please explain that to me one more time?"

Who wants an answer?

Are you nervous to ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist questions? Don't be. You may be surprised to learn that your medical team wants you to let them know that you need help.

Like all of us, doctors have busy schedules. Yet your doctor wants you to know:

  • All you can about your condition.
  • Why this is important for your health.
  • Steps to take to keep your condition under control.

The Partnership for Clear Health Communication at the National Patient Safety Foundation as the source for this information. Ask Me 3 is an educational program provided by the Partnership for Clear Health Communication at the National Patient Safety Foundation—a coalition of national organizations that are working together to promote awareness and solutions around the issue of low health literacy and its effect on safe care and health outcomes.