Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

What’s a question you’d like to hear more patients ask?


“Can you explain that again?” “Can we talk more about this?” “Can I explain how this impacts my life?”

Lifelong Learning in Clinical Excellence | August 28, 2020 | <1 min read


Howard Liu, MD, MBA, University of Nebraska

“Can I explain how this impacts my life?”

Whatever we put in the treatment plan, it always requires a change in patient behavior. Some things are easier (getting a pill sorter). Others are harder (explaining sexual side effects to a partner). We need to understand this.

Eric Last, DO, North Bellmore, New York

“What can I do to take better control of my health?”

What do you think?

Do you want to add to the conversation? Please share!

Jeff Millstein, MD, Penn Medicine

“What’s the best way to reach you if I need help?”

This question strengthens our relationship because it gives me opportunity to reinforce continuity and shows our practice’s culture of being accessible.


Awais Aftab, MD, Cleveland, Ohio

1) “What are the factors in my health that determine whether treatment is needed? What happens if we don’t treat?”

2) “How much will this intervention make an impact on outcomes that I care about (quality of life, restoration of functioning, etc.) versus outcomes that may be of interest to you?”

Chase Anderson, MD, UCSF

“What are effective ways to navigate through a system with inherent bigotry to get my healthcare needs met? How do I protect my mental health?”

Shannon Scott-Vernaglia, MD, Mass General

“Can you explain that again? Can we talk more about this?”

Carl Streed Jr., MD, MPH Boston University Medical Center

“How can I get my questions answered if you’re not available? How long can I expect [insert referral, prescription, etc.] to take? How long are you planning to practice here?”

Megan Gerber, MD, MPH, Boston University Medical Center

“Can I stop any of my medications?” #deprescribing #polypharmacy

Ambereen Mehta, MD, Johns Hopkins Medicine

“I don’t understand what you just told me, can you explain it again with less detail and fewer medical terms?”

Colleen Christmas, MD, Johns Hopkins Medicine

“Could this be treated without drugs?”

“Can you join me for just a few minutes when I talk with my __ (specialist) about this complicated decision?”

Mariah Robertson, MD, Johns Hopkins Medicine

“Can we include my important family member(s)/partner/friend in this discussion? I want to make sure they know what we’re talking about and what my wishes are.”

We obviously should always ask this as clinicians but I would love if patients knew they could advocate for this too and that they felt comfortable asking!

Liz Phung, DO, Johns Hopkins Medicine

“I don’t have an advance directive or living will. I know I should have one but don’t know where to start. Can you explain to me what it is and how to make one?”