Because of several outside factors, some doctors do not develop a deep and trusting relationship with their patients. However, both parties will benefit if they can have a more pleasant interaction.
How is your relationship with your doctor?
In an ideal world, clinic and hospital visits are pleasant experiences where patients can discuss their health concerns with the attending physicians. However, in reality, things are not as easy. Doctors are often forced to keep a tight schedule in order to meet with as many people during the day as possible. Insurers pay more for laboratory tests and procedures, leaving general practitioners with very little reimbursement.
The outcome is usually not good for both parties. Doctors could not give patients enough time to discuss health concerns and provide medical advice. Patients, on the other hand, do not feel that they were given enough time to discuss their treatment which leads to poor adherence.
Healthcare is a rather complicated issue. It is not one size fits all which means that doctors cannot make a diagnosis and offer treatment within a few minutes. If a patient comes in with unusual symptoms, a doctor would need more time to assess their condition. As a result, the doctor may have to skip eating their meals to keep up with their schedules during the day. Patients, meanwhile, have the right to understand the impact of their illness and be treated with respect and dignity,
Improving Doctor-Patient Relationship: What Can Be Done?
At present, it is harder to give the entire healthcare system, which forces doctors to move swiftly to earn a profit, a complete overhaul. Not much can be done when the attending physician has no choice but to fill their day with as many patient visits that they can.
There are tools that make communication between patient and physician better. A patient portal software service enables people to do certain tasks without calling or being physically present at the clinic or hospital. They can request prescription renewals, request an appointment, send a message for questions, and pay their bills using their chosen payment option. The platform provides the patient an easy way to reach their doctor and have better access to care. Increased doctor-patient communication improves the dynamic between both parties.
Staff can also conduct pre-screening prior to the actual appointment to ask the patient what they need from the physician. This will allow them to identify which visits can be cut short to create a longer period of time for doctors to attend to more serious ailments. Moreover, all the paperwork and insurance authorization should be completed during the pre-screening to quicken the process.
Fewer Malpractice Lawsuits
But, why exactly do doctors need to make an effort to improve their relationship with their patients?
It is for their own sake, too.
Since the 1980s, at the height of malpractice lawsuits, studies have found that doctors that have a better relationship with their patients were spared from legal action. Doctors, who listened to them attentively and gave them time to discuss their ailments, were rated favorably by patients.
Those who have had a positive experience with their doctors were less likely to pursue a malpractice lawsuit even if they had a legitimate claim. That is because empathy, which is the capacity to understand what a person is feeling, builds trust and deepens the relationship between doctor and patient. It requires active listening – something that a lot of doctors are not capable of often because of time constraints. But, it is a powerful communication skill that leads to a more satisfactory meeting between doctor and patient.
Better Health Outcomes
The patient also benefits from a pleasant relationship with their doctor. They trust their doctor and, therefore, are more likely to follow their advice when it comes to treatment. They can also be more open and share details that may affect their well-being.
One meta-analysis of 13 clinical studies found that the relationship between patient and doctor matters when it comes to health outcomes. The studies assigned doctors randomly to provide the normal methods of care or take additional steps to provide more patient-focused care. Unsurprisingly, those who received additional care had better health outcomes.
Physicians can improve their relationship with their patients and the outcomes of treatments by being empathetic. Fortunately, it is a trait that can be learned. Start by greeting your patients warmly and introducing yourself. Researchers from John Hopkins discovered that many doctors fail to even introduce themselves to their patients, let alone explain the role they play in ensuring their health.
Doctors do not have the luxury of giving all the time needed to care for their patients now. However, back in the day, doctors did more than prescribe medication and analyze laboratory results. They had to develop a pleasant bedside manner because cure, at the time, had very limited effects.
Despite the challenges, doctors in the present should strive to be, at the very least, empathetic. People come to the hospital to seek medical care and they are worried or afraid. Hearing their concerns lead to correctly addressing the ailment before it grows more serious.