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Posts Tagged ‘doctor-patient communication’

A simple solution — greater transparency for all.

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An e-mail arrived from a marketer offering to help market my medical practice.  The message talked about how the Internet can be good or bad, how doctor rating websites can negatively affect a practice, and how this marketer has solutions for how to put the Internet to better use.

I have a solution, and it’s really quite simple.  Doctors should be encouraging their patients to do online ratings.  Doctors are doing a great job for their patients.  What doctors need is transparency: We ought to encourage patients to do online ratings so that the public sees the great quality of care that doctors are providing.

On the DrScore.com rating site, the average score of a doctor with 20 or more ratings is 9.3 out of 10!  There’s no reason to want to hide that.

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Some of my colleagues — other doctors — were recently discussing what to do about a situation. They thought another doctor had provided what they considered sub-optimal care to a loved one.

It was interesting to listen to doctors discussing this topic — it’s something that non-doctors have been talking about for a long time.

My answer to the question, “What to do if you believe the doctor did not provide the best medical care?” Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Communicate with the doctor who took care of the patient.
  • Respectfully raise your concerns.
  • Find out the doctor’s story about what he or she did and what she or he was thinking.

Many times, our impression of the problem disappears when we hear the other person’s side of the story — and that isn’t just limited to the world of medicine. But ultimately, if there is a problem with the care, the doctor needs to know. Providing feedback is essential for doctors to improve.

That’s where doctor rating Web sites, such as DrScore.com come in.  If a doctor feels intimidated about contacting another doctor with an issue about the care provided a family member, imagine how much more intimidating it is for patients who are not working in the field of medicine.

I will always believe that giving patients a discreet, anonymous venue means to give doctors feedback — like we do with the http://www.DrScore.com Web site — helps to facilitate feedback and improve patient care in a completely non-threatening way.

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Doctor patient communication

The Archives of Internal Medicine reports that communication between doctors and patients isn’t always what it should be.  The study of 89 hospitalized patients found:

  • Of the 73% of patients who thought there was 1 main physician, only 18% could name the physician
  • Only 67% of the physicians thought patients knew their names
  • Only 57% of patients knew their diagnosis
  • Only 21% of physicians said they always provided explanations of some kind
  • 90% of patients getting a new medication said they were never told about any side effects

The researchers concluded that steps to improve patient-physician communication should be identified and implemented.  Boy, is that an understatement!

To start, perhaps doctors could leave each patient a business card with the doctor’s name on the card.  That would help patients know their doctors’ names.  Even better, have a line on the card where the diagnosis could be written.  I’d include the doctor’s cell phone and e-mail address to help enhance communication between the doctor and the patient and their family.  And perhaps the doctor ought to have a checklist of things to do so that whenever a new prescription is given, the patient is given a written explanation about the medication, including the potential side effects to look out for.

Of course it would help for every patient to be given the opportunity to give their doctor feedback through a system like www.DrScore.com to identify these kinds of problems and solutions to them ASAP.  A “Please give me feedback at http://www.DrScore.com” would be a nice addition to that business card.

We are so invested in improving medical care, with billions and billions of dollars going to the development of new treatments that may someday help someone.  Just a little common sense and some inexpensive solutions could be done right now to enhance the care that most patients receive.

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