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Doctors And Patients Wish Their Relationship Was Better

Physicians said in a survey that noncompliance with advice or treatment recommendations was their foremost complaint about their patients. Most said it affected their ability to provide optimal care and more 37 percent said it did so “a lot.”

Three-quarters of patients said they were highly satisfied with their doctors. But they still had complaints ranging from long wait times to ineffective treatments.

Those are just some of the findings from two surveys, the first a poll of 660 primary care physicians conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in September 2010 and the second a poll of 49,000 Consumer Reports subscribers in 2009. The magazine reported its results online.

In the doctors’ poll, physicians named these top challenges:

— 76 percent of doctors said when it came to getting better medical care, forming a long-term relationship with a primary care physician would help “very much.”

— 61 percent said being respectful and courteous toward doctors would help “very much,” while 70 percent said respect and appreciation from patients had gotten “a little” or “much” worse since they had started practicing medicine. This was a two-way street, since patients reported the same feelings.

— 42 percent physicians said health plan rules and regulations interfered “a lot” with the care they provided.

Also noted in the poll, 37 percent of physicians thought they were “very” effective when it comes to minimizing pain and discomfort for their patients, though 97 percent thought they were “somewhat” effective. But, 79 percent of patients said their doctor helped to minimize their pain or discomfort, according to the Consumer Reports blog. The gap might be explained by doctors thinking of their overall effectiveness with all of their patients, including those with chronic pain conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat, and who are as a group less satisfied with their physicians.

Next, the patients said what they thought would help their relationship with a physician:

— 31 percent said they wished they had more information before choosing a doctor. Not knowing much up front about a doctor’s personality or treatment style was a real obstacle for patients in search of a good match.

— More than one-quarter of patients indicated some level of discomfort with their doctors’ inclination to prescribe drugs.

— 9 percent said they had e-mailed their doctor directly in the previous year.

Possibilities to enhance communication include:

— Patients could take notes during the appointments. 89 percent of doctors said that keeping an informal log of treatments, drugs, changes in condition, notes from previous doctor visits, and tests and procedures could be helpful. But only 33 percent of patients routinely did so.

— Research online, but carefully. 61 percent of patients said they researched health information on the Internet to help with their medical care. Almost half of physicians surveyed said online research helps very little or not at all.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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2 Responses to “Doctors And Patients Wish Their Relationship Was Better”

  1. emmy says:

    Nice! Another “My doctor wants” list that ends up with the advise telling patients to respect their doctors, take notes and have test results available. Cool beans. How about if doctors respected their patients a little. Like how about if a patient requests to see the doctor and not the NP or the PA, they actually got to see the doctor? Or how about just not assuming that I’m lying about everything that I’m telling you, especially if I have a history of being up front with you. And the request that we take notes, where on that small table that we are sitting on are we supposed to keep that pen and pad during the exam. As for having test results readily available, how about if you make them available to me? I still have not found the doctor that will give me results, sometimes when I directly ask for the number. What they tell me is “Your blood test looks good”, not “Your A1c was 6.5% this time, nice job.” Respect and communication is a two way street. And if you want me to be able to give them to you, you need to provide it.

  2. Ryan DuBosar says:

    Emmy, it’s no surprise that doctors and patients want the same things: Respect, trust, and communication. There’s failures on both sides, of course, but knowing this offers a chance to improve healthcare.

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