Health Issues Centre recently met with a group of passionate consumers and discussed how to address the issues affecting two-way communication between consumers and health professionals.

At this session HIC presented on how consumers can better prepare to make the most of healthcare visits. The participants fed back that they found this information very useful, so we decided to share it with you too.

Evidence based health information online

To feel confident about managing your health condition you need to be well informed. However it is better NOT to just do a ‘’Google search’’ because the information you might encounter can be of variable quality. There are several well-known, reliable, and trustworthy web sites where consumers can go to find correct health information. These include:

One person who attended the session said:

“The MedicineWise app sounds like a handy way to keep track of medicines for when you’re attending appointments!”

Checking that health information online is reliable

If you, or someone you know DO ‘’Google search’’ a health condition or medicine, please use this checklist to make sure that the information is reliable and appropriate for you.

Preparing to visit a medical practitioner

The other thing we discussed at the session was how to prepare before visiting a medical practitioner. There are a few tools to assist consumers to prepare before an appointment. These include:

Question builder

Prepare for your medical appointment by creating a list of questions to ask your doctor. Print or email the list to yourself or a support person so that it is handy to take to your appointment. This preparation will help you get more out of the time with your doctor and help you to remember everything you want to ask.

A person who attended the session shared their thoughts on the importance of feeling prepared for a health appointment:

“It would be great if the staff at health services encouraged patients to use resources like ‘Question Builder’. Being from a regional area, I sometimes have to drive 4 hours each way to go to a health appointment, so I need to make the most of my time with the specialist.”

Check-back is an online learning tool to help all consumers understand what is happening in our health appointments, engage with healthcare workers as partners in our own care, and leave with a clear understanding of what happens next.

Another attendee reflected that its ok to follow up on things you need from your healthcare providers:

“… it’s OK to phone the GP clinic to ask for the referral you forgot to ask for, or email a specialist to check if you need to continue taking the existing medication after being given a script for a new medication.”

Disseminating this information to other consumers

Not all consumers have access to a computer or are confident searching information online. The participants in this session also discussed how consumer advisors or representatives can help by encouraging their health services to disseminate this information to those who face access barriers. Some of the suggestions included:

  • Working with your organisation to place links to this information on the consumer section of your website
  • Adding messaging to television sets in waiting rooms
  • Distributing as a printed one-pager through a letter box drop
  • Presenting at local community group meetings
  • Liaising with local libraries or Neighbourhood Houses to disseminate this information to the general public

This session was provided by Health Issues centre and funded by Safer Care Victoria.

Further information

If you would like to discuss training sessions that include information on health literacy and effective communication, please do not hesitate to contact us at