Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Show me the Love

I came across this wonderful post on Dr. Edwin Leap's blog, "Attention Doctors: People may not like you." It is relevant for all clinicians and talks about the interactions between patients and providers, patient expectations, and the handling of these expectations.

The important thing to remember is that we are providing a service to our patients. Patients come to us for our advice, opinion and to make them feel better. Some may not agree with our plan and will seek further opinion - and sometimes they certainly should. Patient's should be empowered to be actively involved in the decision making process. But oftentimes silos are created, further fragmenting care and communication. That's why I believe firmly that comprehensive care is best delivered in teams - where team members share the same focus and are aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses. There are so many patient variables to consider: culture, socio-economic status, gender, past medical history, genetics, etc. The list can go on and on. Surely, some providers are more apt to care for certain conditions given the complexity of the individual than others (and I'm not necessarily referring to traditional specialists per se). In addition, there are the many treatment modalities to consider. Is that treatment modality proven? Does the evidence support it? Will this treatment work for this specific patient?

I'm not sure what that model of health care truly looks like or if it even exists today. I don't think we need to get too complicated and assemble "true" teams complete with uniforms, logos, statistics, coaches, general managers, free agency, arbitration, and a trading deadline. Or should we? One of the main problems is that the health care "system" isn't coordinated by anyone or anything. Could this be the opportunity for the "medical home" concept to flourish?

The bottom-line is that we are judged by our actions and interactions with patients. We must constantly remind ourselves of this. Most of them will be favorable (hopefully) and some won't. Clinicians need to perform a delicate balance of providing evidence-based and compassionate care, being an effective communicator, yielding high-quality results while doing all of this cost efficiently. The question becomes, How can patients objectively evaluate this information? Does anyone have any suggestions???

No comments: