The Experts: How to Improve Doctor-Patient Communication
Feb 15, · To understand how bad the situation was at one hospital, doctors in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, completed a simple baseline assessment of how they communicate with their patients. The assessment found that most interactions lacked a formal introduction and empathy on the part of the doctor. The hospital in Harrisburg set out to improve their practice by developing a training program consisting of mock patient interviews and assessments between doctors and actors playing patient roles. Jun 27, · Healthcare professionals can help patients build better communication skills by allowing patients to ask questions, setting boundaries, and being open to your patient’s point of view. It can be helpful to set up scripts for common questions and situations you deal with in the office.
What is the single thing doctors could do to improve their communication skills with patients? The Wall Street Journal put this question to The Experts, an exclusive group of industry and thought leaders who engage in in-depth online discussions of topics from the print Report. This question relates to a recent article on improving doctors' communication skills with patients and formed the basis of a discussion in The Experts stream hwo Tuesday, April 9.
Find the health Experts online at WSJ. With the advent of digital record keeping, I worry that we are losing the ability to look our patients in the eyes, listen intently to their fears and concerns and provide the support and caring that is so necessary for a relationship that promotes healing.
I have always thought that the conversations with patients have the potential to be therapeutic or harmful. We can promote the kind of communication that enables patients to be better able to make difficult choices, to be more confident in pursuing the iimprove they choose and to be more likely to achieve the results that they desire. And we need to avoid the kind commumication communication that alienates patients from how to memorize a paragraph in one day health-care system, inhibits them from honestly disclosing how they feel and what they need, interferes with their ability to make the choices that best fit them and reduces the likelihood that they will get the outcomes they desire.
And the loss of respect for the power of connecting with patients is not the fault of doctors, but seems to be a byproduct of the medical environment that we have created and the behaviors that we reward. Doctors lose also when relationships are a casualty of the production mentality that focuses intently on relative value unit, the currency of medical output, rather than the results achieved with patients—including the nature of the relationships.
Doctors, medical schools, hospitals, health-care systems need patkent find ways to foster an environment where everything we do starts with looking in our patients' eyes and really knowing them. Hines, Jr. Doctors are not taught the importance of this skill very well in school. Imprive recently, the reimbursement pressures and frequency of patients per hour are creating new "justifications" for some doctors to not connect with their patients at a deeper what is the best pressure cooker for canning. Brochures and iPads help with communications—but empathy makes the decisive difference.
The goal of good communication should be getting the best outcomes for patients. Seen in that light, the key for doctors improving their communication with patients is the quality of their communication with fellow clinicians.
That's because good medicine is a team sport. Even the best surgeon can watch her patient die of an infection, accident or error because communication broke how to walk down stairs among the team of professionals.
Sorry to say, these deadly mistakes are commonplace and often the rule rather than the exception in many hospitals. An estimated one in four patients admitted to a hospital in America will suffer some form of unintended harm, and more than people die from hospital mishaps every day.
Good team communication is life or death for patients. Unfortunately, though health care is changing rapidly, traditional medical education focuses on teaching physicians to function solo, learning the details of diagnosing and intervening, but not so much the complexities of engaging disparate groups of clinicians, including nonphysicians, in common cause. The good news is we see new models of medical education involving practical experience for students working with a variety of disciplines alongside their patients, focusing on the art and science of imrpove teamwork —but it's all very new, and much more is needed.
While medicine is coming to realize the importance of physicians functioning as quarterbacks rather than as lone rangers, patients often expect Dr. Lone Ranger, and doctors hate to disappoint them or diminish their own reputation with their patients.
Patients have this expectation about doctors how to lose 150 pounds fast they watch TV. In a given year, millions more people watch programs about hospitals than communicagion an actual hospital.
With all due respect to my fellow commentator from "House," hospital dramas reinforce public expectations of the doctor-hero, who needs little or nothing from his colleagues. House makes a brilliant diagnosis, then single-handedly intervenes to save the patient, often shooing away bureaucrats and the clmmunication nurses haplessly getting in his way. According to a disturbing book analyzing media images of nurses, the character Dr.
House sometimes even viciously disparages the few nurse characters that appeared in the drama. In fact, in real life no patient should feel safe in a hospital where nurses are disparaged, because this is dangerous behavior on many levels. You wouldn't know it from watching TV, but most of the care delivered at hospitals comes from nurses.
When nurses are disrespected, the work they do is overlooked and not well supported—meaning hour-a-day patient care is not a priority in the hospital. A terrific story in how to put multiple videos on one dvd month's AARP magazine highlights how central how to improve doctor patient communication are in the safest hospitals. A physician who cannot communicate productively with a nurse—or puts them down the way fictional Dr.
House does—cannot communicate effectively with patients, and communicatioon doing so, puts patients' how to use a canon 60d camera at risk. Doctors need to listen more and talk less.
When meeting with patients, doctors shouldn't interrupt or dominate the conversation. Instead, doctors should ask open-ended questions to encourage each patient to describe his or her feelings and concerns about their illness. When doctors take the time to listen, the treatment decisions and care plans that they develop will better reflect their patients' wishes; in turn, those plans are more likely to be followed by patients.
Toward the end of a visit, it's important for doctors to carefully listen for any patient questions or concerns and to check for any misunderstandings or confusion. To ensure each communicaiton understands aptient remembers important information about their treatment, their doctor can ask him or her to describe the plan in their own words, a strategy known as the teach-back method.
Peter Pronovost is a practicing anesthesiologist, critical-care physician, professor, Johns Hopkins Medicine senior vice president and director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.
Doctor-patient communication has changed in many how to improve doctor patient communication since I graduated medical school more than 30 years ago. The recent introduction of electronic health records in the office, for example, requires many doctors to spend much of a patient exam looking at a computer screen instead of the patient in order to record information.
This kind of distraction means it is more important than ever to listen carefully for what ails the patient. We have a tendency for a "quick fix," which often means ordering a test or writing a prescription. Yet I fear, as in Adelaide's Lament, the medicine never how to upload a video without copyright infringement anywhere near where imorove trouble is.
We need to be sure we are treating the symptom or problem that brought the patient in; for a cardiologist, as an example, the issue may not be the patient's palpitations or skipped beatsbut the patient's fear that these irregularities are a harbinger of a heart attack.
So instead of prescribing a medicine to try to reduce the irregularities which is not likely to be successful anywayI may take the time to explain the electrical phenomenon of palpitations, and why it is nothing to worry about for most people.
In all of medicine, this is the simplest question to answer, but has the hardest solution to implement. To get the biggest improvement in physician-patient communication, physicians need do only t thing: slow down. Communicatioj the U. That's not very long to do all the black-and-white things that need doing. So it's unsurprising that communication—being the pre-eminent shades-of-gray activity—is reduced to bare minimums.
Electronic health records have compounded this problem because they, too, demand communication time from the physician. And being legal documents, their need trumps the patient's need. The next generation of EHRs will continue to have clunky interfaces and will therefore continue to steal time from the patient. Hopefully, the generation after that will actually improve the physician's efficiency, and repay time previously stolen from patients.
Even after that happy day, however, time considerations will still dominate physician-patient communication. With the sole exception of military aviation, where flight surgeons integrate themselves into the flying activities of their patients and thereby enjoy unconstrained interaction, there will never be enough time.
Realistically, the best thing physicians can do to improve communication is put themselves into the heads of their how to improve doctor patient communication. Done right, this results in using language that matches the faculties of the patient, minimizing distractions and interruptions, and anticipating questions.
One of my clinical heroes, Dr. Philip Tumulty of Johns Hopkins, wrote: "A pair doctorr kidneys will never come to the physician for diagnosis and treatment. They will be contained within an anxious, fearful, wondering person, asking puzzled questions about an obscure future, weighed down by what are the different classification of animals responsibilities of a loved family, and with ppatient job to be held, and with bills to be paid.
John Sotos, a cardiologist and flight surgeon, was a medical technical adviser to the television series "House" and is the author of several books, including " The Physical Lincoln. Listening… count to 10 …and listening some more. As harried clinicians, we have a lifetime of learning in our heads that we immediately try to use to diagnose and treat before we run from odctor visit or operation to another.
This pressure will only get worse as the shortage of patieny grows. Perhaps the best thing we can do as doctors is to spread the listening, caring and health care to other members of the health-care team.
For example, sometimes it's better to have a pharmacist help a patient learn how to properly take their medications. Family counseling may be better handled how to get rid of spyhunter a social worker or clinical psychologist. A surgeon might need a physician assistant to check a patient after an operation while she is in the operating room.
We physicians will have to let go of some activities that others might be just as good at or umprove to focus on those patients that need us the most. I remember my initial surprise when taking my father to meet with a renowned oncologist to find that the first hour was spent with a PA.
But she had, and used, the time to listen and understand my dad's needs. The doctor came in for exactly the right parts of his care and the nurses who infused his chemotherapy were a lifeline.
While my father eventually lost his life to that aggressive cancer, his care was better thanks to the nurses, PAs and hospice counselors who listened alongside and in collaboration with his physician. Today, medical schools and teaching hospitals are working with schools of nursing and pharmacy to educate and train health professionals in interprofessional teams.
This team approach will reshape medical practice in the future and help all caregivers do a better job of listening to patients. Today, patients need "active" communications when it comes to the care they receive. This includes the opportunity for them to be heard, and education about their condition presented to them more clearly. Considering the expanding role of nurses and other clinicians in care delivery, active communication needs to occur cpmmunication the entire care delivery team.
This type of approach supports shared decision making between care teams AND patients and their caregivers, and it's already shown to improve outcomes.
Today, care teams are focusing on engaging patients and families in their care. They're clearly explaining next steps of care, and ensuring opportunities for questions to be asked and concerns voiced. How to cure and smoke a country ham also incorporating "teach back" strategies that ask patients and their caregivers to demonstrate that they understand post-discharge instructions by explaining them in their own words.
And they're providing concise information on how to manage medications, explaining their purpose, how and when to properly take them, and possible side effects. In all, this active communication approach has helped to cut readmissions among hospitals by 8. Because every patient is different, doctors and nurses need to hlw active communication to ensure they are understood.
Making care decisions as partners can go a long way toward improving outcomes. When doctors communicate with patients, there's a series of unspoken choices they make—what to say and what not to say, who to include in important discussions, what counsel to provide, and what kind of follow-up care is needed.
Many of these communication decisions may be influenced by assumptions and stereotypes about who a patient is, what "their story" is, and what their goals are. If the assumptions are wrong, it can limit a patient's choices and compromise a patient's health. At EngenderHealth, jmprove train doctors and other health-care professionals in more than 20 countries around the world, so they are able to provide women with high-quality care.
Our success as a leading global women's health organization is, in part, because the health-care professionals we train know that their interaction is more than just a moment in time: It's about establishing a connection, ensuring that a patient understands all of her options, responding to what a patient wants and helping her achieve the outcomes she desires.
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To improve doctor patient communication, it’s important that today’s physicians follow these same best practices. Use Simple Language. Clinical terms are used regularly in conversations between doctors. But when these terms are used in patient communications, they can easily lead to confusion and misinterpretation. Feb 24, · Talk to patients about their own observations, such as pain levels and symptoms, and report the results of exams and tests, and summarize health problems and treatment plans. Use simple language. Mar 21, · It's easy for all of us to interrupt when we know time is short or we are in a hurry, but a practitioner who is a good communicator knows that if it can't be done right, to begin with, it will need to be done over. Listening carefully and respectfully will go a long way toward better outcomes for the .
Doctor patient communication is absolutely critical for a good doctor patient relationship. In recent years, the nature of doctor patient communication has changed. Not only do healthcare practitioners communicate with their patients at appointments, but they also follow up with them on the phone.
Sometimes, conversations happen through email and video chat, too. With the onset of more doctors offering telehealth services , more patients are seeking to communicate in a variety of different ways.
Also, as growing a medical practice becomes more competitive in urban areas, many doctors are scratching their heads and wondering what they can do to retain their patients.
Good communication is essential for improving health and medical care for patients. Without clear communication, the overall quality of patient care can quickly decline. Poor communication can prevent patients from understanding their diagnosis, reduce effective treatment outcomes, and even decrease their levels of hopefulness. In addition to general benefits of better patient outcomes, good doctor patient communication has been proven to influence a wide array of positive outcomes for both doctors and patients.
In general, doctors should always be courteous and have good bedside table manners. However, the way doctors communicate with patients should take into account how healthcare has shifted over the years. However, some of the responsibilities of good communication fall on the patient as well. It can be helpful to set up scripts for common questions and situations you deal with in the office.
For example, for patients that like to ask questions and chat, you could say something along the lines of:. Curbside appointments can be limited by setting firm boundaries while also remaining courteous. Family members accompanying patients to appointments can help enrich the overall doctor patient communication.
In many cases, they can help shed a different light on the situation at hand. However, abnormal family relationships or overbearing parents can quickly turn a productive appointment into a futile one.
Ask the family member to leave the room, and give the patient the chance to explain any concerns they have. Generally overbearing family member that imparts feelings of nervousness in the patient. Use the physical exam as a time to excuse the family member from the room and give the patient a chance to speak.
Firmly rephrase the need for privacy to complete a physical exam and assess for signs of abuse. Avoid taking sides unless abuse is suspected, then assess for abuse and treat appropriately. A family therapist referral may be needed.
A study provides concrete ways that doctors can improve communication with their patients, including:. Doctor patient communication applications such as NexHealth can help medical professionals better communicate with patients.
Patients will often have follow-up questions or forget when they were supposed to come back in for an appointment. With the right software, doctor patient communication becomes much more efficient.
NexHealth is full of user-friendly features that help doctors communicate better with patients, such as:. It helps patients maintain better health outcomes, helps doctors retain happy patients, and reduces the overall stress of doctor patient interactions. By coupling good communication skills with an online healthcare management software like NexHealth , you can provide better, personalized communication to your patients in less time than before.
Lost your password? Share Share. Good doctor patient communication. Why is doctor-patient communication important? Benefits of good doctor patient communication In addition to general benefits of better patient outcomes, good doctor patient communication has been proven to influence a wide array of positive outcomes for both doctors and patients.
Leads to more accurate diagnosis Patients are more likely to follow treatment plans Reduces blood pressure for patients Increases the chance of the patient continuing to see their healthcare provider Decreases frustrations for both doctors and patients For doctors, it increases job satisfaction and decreases work stress How should doctors communicate with patients?
A family therapist referral may be needed How can doctors improve their communication skills? Previous Post. June Product Update. Next article. You may also like. More in Customer Success. Comments are closed. Most Read. Featured Categories. Practice Management.
Healthcare Marketing. Product Updates. Remember Me. Directly address the patient and ask them to answer. Familial abuse is suspected based on patient behavior or physical exam. Family member is overly-emotional during the appointment. Family member refuses to leave the room, even though the patient is conversing fine.