Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Talking Cure

Interesting Excerpts from WSJ article

The Talking Cure
Doctors need to work on their people skill
Doctors are rude.
Doctors don’t listen.
Doctors don’t explain things in term patients can understand.
Lack of communication can hurt the quality of care, drive up the costs and increase the risk of lawsuits.

Medical schools, health systems, malpractice insurers and hospitals are trying to help doctors improve their bedtime manners. They are setting up education programs from everyone from medical students to seasoned pros that have spent years talking to patients.

The efforts take a variety of innovative approaches such as putting doctors through role-playing sessions with actors to teach basics like always facing the patient, letting them speak uninterrupted for two minutes and using keyword to show compassion & empathy. (I am so sorry that you are in pain).

Making the Connection
Research shows that when doctors don’t listen to patients, they miss important health cues and misdiagnose illness.  Meanwhile, patients who don’t understand what their doctors’ say, fail to follow the regimens, leading to preventable hospitalizations, complications & poor outcomes. 40 % or more of malpractice suites are caused due to breakdown in physician-patient communication.
Medicare payment is based on survey which asks how doctor’s communication was.

Bring In Help
Doctors are trained to ask permission to enter a room, introduce themselves & put patients at ease.
Before leaving, they are expected to thank the patient and family and let them know it has been enjoyable to work with them.

Lessons for old hand
Jeffrey was surprised t find that he learned  some valuable lessons about explaining complex medical information, talking to patients emotionally difficult issues and using simple phrases to convey concerns.

Four habits
Health System are turning to another model known as four habits which teaches doctors how to create rapport with patients, elicit their views , demonstrate empathy & assess their ability to follow a treatment regimen.

Communication does not mean you are going to hug & skip & run off into sunset with the patient. Some conversation will not go well, but you will walk away with the feeling you did best. You could maintain your professionalism and compassion despite challenges coming at you from multiple directions.

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