Hans Christian Anderson is the Danish author of many fairy tales and stories with universal themes: the “Princess and the Pea,” the “Ugly Duckling,” and the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” Recently, I was in Odense, Denmark, the author’s home, for a symposium updating physicians on the treatment of common skin diseases. I was invited to speak about my research on patients’ use of their medications.
I do not speak Danish, and I was the only American at the meeting and the only one speaking in English. When the chair of the meeting introduced the symposium, he stressed the importance of patient satisfaction. (Note: I only knew this because the slides were in English.) Then I spoke, and my talk included research based on DrScore ratings.
My talk was well received. Danish doctors with whom I spoke told of the difficulties they face achieving a high patient satisfaction goal given the realities of their health care system and the many patients they see in a given day. Apparently, like many U.S. doctors, they have more patients than they can manage and still give each one as much time as they would like. The Danish doctors were very open to the idea and importance of patient satisfaction, but felt that the huge number of patients is a barrier that they have to overcome. They seemed to appreciate how the physicians’ caring demeanor plays a huge role in physician-patient relationships.
My experience caused me to reflect upon the fact that a patient’s need for a caring, attentive doctor is universal (just like the lessons learned in Hans Christen Andersen’s short stories) — it is not just a need or expectation of patients in the United States.