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Fam Pract Manag. 2007;14(4):52

Be ready to accommodate caregivers

As the elderly population grows, more caregivers and family members are attending doctor's visits. To facilitate communication with both the patient and the caregiver in the exam room, include at least one extra chair and position it so that you can have eye contact with the person sitting in it. Position computers so they don't cause an obstruction between you, the patient and the caregiver. Make sure you communicate clearly with the caregiver as well as the patient, answering all their questions and ensuring that both understand your instructions.

Ask patients for feedback

Find time each week to listen to what your patients have to say about your practice. If changing the focus of your conversation in the exam room feels unnatural, try to catch patients before or after their exams.

Ask if they had trouble scheduling their appointment or how long they sat in the waiting room. Or simply ask whether they have any suggestions or comments about their experience with the practice. Connecting with your patients will serve as a reminder of the bigger picture of patient care, and it could alert you to kinks in operational processes.

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Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Submit a pearl (250 words or less) to FPM at

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Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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