What Do Patients Want From Their Doctors? – Overview
Patients want to feel as though they can trust and connect with their doctors. On the other hand, doctors want to know that their patients are satisfied and pleased with their care.
A good connection between doctor and patient fosters better health outcomes and makes medical treatment more enjoyable for both parties involved.
Here then is what the average patient expects from you as their physician.
In many ways, patients want their doctors to be more like their pharmacists.
A recent survey from the National Business Coalition on Health found that in addition to the usual concerns about cost and accessibility, consumers want their doctors to be more informed about medications and the health care system.
They also want doctors to spend more time with them and less time typing on a computer or shuffling through papers.
Consumers also want their doctors to be better informed about medications. While most doctors say they’re confident in their understanding of various treatments, only approximately 25 percent of consumers think that’s true.
Doctors need to communicate effectively with their patients. Medical jargon is keeping people in the dark about their health, and that’s not good for anyone.
Patients also want doctors who remember things about them personally — their family, hobbies, and more rather than seeing them as just another body in the practice.
As a physician, you also want to keep in mind that treating patients with respect and dignity is an important part of being a good physician. So is being friendly, approachable, and responsive.
The right tone in this situation can make all the difference.
Doctors must hear what their patients are saying. This means paying attention and not being distracted by other things going on around them or by their thoughts about what they will say next.
Second, they need to understand what is being said. Remember that patients often use “code” words and phrases such as “the worst” or “the best.”
These words do not accurately describe the situation or the patient’s feelings. The doctor must tease out what the patient is trying to communicate.
Third, the doctor needs to remember what the patient has said so that they can respond appropriately and not feel as if they are always starting over with each new visit even if there has been time between appointments.
Empathy matters. Patients want their doctors to understand what they’re going through.
That doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with their views — that’s not an option unless they’re right — but it does mean being able to put yourself in their shoes.
For instance, if someone is worried because they’ve been told they’ll need surgery, try to imagine how you’d feel if you were in the same position and act accordingly.
Doctors are experts in what they do and should be able to diagnose patient conditions correctly and give effective treatments or medications (if needed).
If a patient has a serious medical condition such as cancer or heart disease, they want their doctor to know what they are doing so that they can get the help they need.
That said, this doesn’t mean that doctors don’t make mistakes sometimes – they do – just make sure that it is not the norm with you.
Patients want doctors who make themselves available for appointments, advice, and referrals at convenient times and locations.
Patients generally don’t like having to schedule appointments weeks or months in advance and then have them canceled or rescheduled at the last minute because of emergencies or other commitments on the doctor’s part.
This means more than just being nice — it involves being courteous as well as competent and knowledgeable.
Patients want their doctors to listen carefully, answer questions completely and be responsive when they follow up with office visits or calls.
They also want doctors to make time for them when they have questions or need help.
Patients want to be heard and treated like respected, contributing members of the medical team. They want their doctors to be responsive to their concerns and respectful of their time.
Treating patients as partners in their health care is known as a “patient-centered approach” and it’s been embraced by 90 percent of U.S. hospitals and most primary care doctors’ offices.
Those practices that embrace this philosophy are more likely to get positive reviews from patients, according to several studies from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.