- We Stop Being A "Person" And Become A "Patient" When We Do This ...
- Is Trying To “Convince” People To Use Health Apps They Don’t Want The Right Approach To Patient Engagement?
- Patient Engagement & Health IT - Disillusionment Sets In Poll Shows
- Listen To Your Patient And They Will Tell You The Problem - A True Story
- Effective Communications Between Physicians And Patients Is Not Optional…And Cannot Be Delegated Away
- Patient Nonadherence - A Rational Reaction To Sub-Optimal Physician-Patient Communication
- The Secret To Patient Engagement - More Engaging Physicians And Health IT
- Interview With Stephen Wilkins, Author Of Mind The Gap Blog
- Patient-Centered Physicians Have Lower Diagnostic Testing Costs
- What Makes A Good Doctor...And Can We Measure It?
Tag Archives: quality of care
A recent qualitative study (structured interviews) of patients conducted at McGill University School of Medicine underscores the importance of listening in physician-patient interactions. In this study, patients were asked to identify the qualities of a good physician. The following is a typical patient response:
“A good physician is somebody who will listen to what the problem is and explain to you what it is and what is being done.’’
Theme #1 – Respondents (people/patients) believed that listening was essential if the physician was to arrive at the right (and credible) diagnosis.
- ‘Physicians “should trust the person in front of them and hear what they’re saying. . .because I know my body better than anybody else.“
- ‘‘Listen to what they [patients] have to say; not just what other people wrote about them in the doctor’s notes.
- ‘‘[If] I feel that I haven’t had enough time with you to tell you exactly what my story is, even when you give me a prescription I’m going to say, ‘Really? Is this prescription right for me and for my illness? Or [is it] going to give me more complications?’. . .and I think sometimes that’s why you find patients will take it for 1–2 days and after that they forget about it, because they say, ‘He didn’t hear what I had to say about this pain.
Theme #2 – Listening is healing and therapeutic.
For years researchers have written about the therapeutic value of strong physician-patient communications. Turns out patients recognize the same benefits. For example, a physician who listens and “validates the patient’s perspective or expresses empathy may help a patient experience improved psychological well-being—fewer negative emotions (e.g., fear, anxiety) and more positive ones (e.g., hope, optimism, and self-worth) ”
- ‘‘If a doctor doesn’t respect the patient, or doesn’t listen, the patient feels more worried and unsettled and this has an impact on their health.’’
- ‘‘Sometimes, listening to a person will cure half of your problem. . . like it takes two or three months to get an appointment. In those two–three months, you make your problem worse by thinking, ‘Oh maybe it is this, or that or that or that.’
- ‘‘if you listen to the patient and give the patient respect, what you are actually doing is helping that person take responsibility for their own health – that they are also in control of the healing process and are involved somehow. So the doctor has to not take all the power away from the patient.’’
Theme #3 – Listening can foster and strengthen the doctor–patient relationship if it is authentic
- ‘‘I want the doctor. . . to have empathy and to listen and to look into my eyes and to make me feel that for that short moment…you are hearing me, you are there for me, and you give me that sense that I matter
- ‘‘It still makes me angry when I think about how I was. . .how I sort of felt ridiculed for my looking into alternative options.’’
- I think they [physicians] should listen out of respect. Sometimes I think that caring and compassion can be patronizing, if it is insincere. You can still be arrogant and project this caring and compassionate facade.
Over all I was struck by the following as I read this study…particularly the respondent comments.
- People/patients in the study clearly recognized the link between effective listening (by providers) and quality of care. Too often providers are quick to discount the accuracy or validity of patient perceptions of quality whether in the hospital or doctor’s office. The comments reflected in this study suggest otherwise.
- Listen skills are essential to patient engagement and positive patient experiences. To be engaging, providers must be “relevant” from the patient’s perspective. To be relevant, providers must solicit and listen to what patients want to tell them.
- If listening is therapeutic and has the power to heal…does this mean that physicians who 1) do not solicit or 2) ignore or gloss over patient input are not practicing at the “standard of care?” Given that poor physician-patient communications is a leading cause of malpractice suits it would seem so.
- Health care providers (physicians and hospitals) would do well routinely do a “deep dive” into their patient satisfaction research to get a true and realistic handle on the quality of their provider’s listening and other communication skills. I am not sure that the standard HCAPS and CHAPS survey instruments probe physician-patient communications far enough.
That’s what I think. What’s your opinion?
R. L. Street et al. How does communication heal? Pathways linking clinician-patient communication to health outcomes. Patient Education and Counseling, 2009. 74(3), 295-301.
J. Jagosh et al. Patient Education and Counseling. 85 (2011) 369–374
Turns out there is an unintended consequence of many of the current efforts to standardize the way doctor’s practice medicine. It is called de-skilling. De-skilling can occur when physicians and other providers try to adapt to standardized, new ways of doing things. Examples of such standardization include clinical based care guidelines, electronic medical records (EMRs), Pay for Performance (P4P), Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) requirements and so on.
Examples of physician de-skilling were revealed in a recent study which consisted of in-depth interviews with 78 primary care physicians regarding EMR use. EMRs are all about standardization – what data is captured and recorded, how data is reported, how data is used, and so on.
Over the course of the interviews, physicians in the study described significant examples of de-skilling behavior. Most indicated that valuable patient information was being lost given how physicians adapted to using the EMR. Why? The physicians believed that the EMR forced them to change how they “fed their clinical thought processes into a patient’s record.”
The majority of PCPs interviewed reported situations where they or specialists “cut and paste the same exact language and statements, sometimes consisting of entire narratives across different patient records” where patients had the same condition (usually a chronic condition).
The net result was that PCPs believed they were increasingly getting less patient-specific information from specialists via the EMR which hindered their ability to make informed decisions around diagnosis and treatment.
According to these same physicians, this situation did not happen with paper records. That is because paper records forced clinicians to dictate a certain amount of unique verbiage for transcription into a patient’s record.
Time pressures also contribute to physician de-skilling relative to EMRs. Most EMR systems use templates that physicians must modify for each patient. Physicians in the study complained that there wasn’t enough time to edited the EMR templates and then enter the proper patient information. The conclusion, according to researchers, was that “some of the docs just do the bare minimum in terms of putting stuff into the EMR. When you read what’s in the record you’re kind of like, what is this?’’
In other words, some physicians simply didn’t bother to tailor EMR templates to the needs of the patient choosing instead to simply get through the standardized template.
The bottom line is that physician de-skilling has serious implications for patient outcomes and quality of care.
Patients need to be aware of and protect themselves from instances of physician de-skilling. How can patient do that? The best way is to ask your doctor to review the patient notes section of your electronic patient record to see what you doctor entered about your condition. Is what your doctor entered accurate? Is it complete? Given that others providers will be relying on the quality of your record for treatment decisions, this is something that everyone, patient and physician, need to be aware of.
Huff, T. Deskilling and adaptation among primary care physicians using two work innovations. Health Care Management Review. March 2011.