Wonder What Your Doctors And Patients Talk About…Or Don’t Talk About…Behind Closed Exam Room Doors?

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Soon you can stop wondering…

ExamRoom DoorFor the most us, our first patient experience was a trip to the Pediatrician’s office with our mother. As we age things don’t change much…the doctor’s office remains the center of most people’s “health care experience” except that now we are taking our parents to see the doctor.

The physician-patient relationship is and will continue to be the key stone holding together the rest of U.S. health care system. Why? Because the primary care physician’s office is where the vast majority of health care decisions are made and where most health care is delivered. We are still 13 times more likely to visit our doctor’s office than we are to require an overnight stay in the hospital.

What happens behind the closed doors of the exam room between doctor and patient drives everything else in health care – patient health status, patient adherence, referrals, ER visits, hospital admissions and re-admissions, patient satisfaction and so on. Other than our own personal experience and some vague top line satisfaction survey data, we health care professionals (non-physicians) really know very little about how doctors in our organizations talk with and relate to patients one another once the exam room door closes.

We Know Even Less About The Impact Of Different Styles of Physician-Patient On Our Organizations

For example, what impact does a paternalistic, physician-directed communication style have on patient activation and engagement in hospital-owned physician practices? Or how successful will a physician with poor patient- centered communication skills be when it comes to managing the health of a patient population in an ACO?  Can physicians with poor communication skills hope to retain members attributed to the ACO?  How much money will your organization forfeit next year in incentives and penalties due to poor physician-patient communications resulting in preventable re-admissions and sub-optimal patient experiences?

Exciting New Research Will Soon Provide You Invaluable New Insights Into How Physicians And Patients In Your Market Communication With One Another…And The Implications For Your Organization

It is not often that one gets the chance to become involved in landmark research.  I guess this in my luck day.  Working together with a corporate partner Verilogue in the upcoming months I will be analyzing the patient communication skills of 2,500 HIPPA-compliant physician-patient interviews collected from across the U.S.  The goal of the research will be to deconstruct what primary care doctors and their patients say (and don’t say) to one another and how they say.  We will then benchmark the patient communication skills of physicians in the study against agreed upon industry best practices – aka patient-centered communications.  Ideally the results can be used by hospitals, physician groups, ACOs and health plans to improve the patient-centered communication skills of primary care physicians across the country.

Stay Tuned

As more details of this excite new research become available you will find them here at Mind the Gap first. I look forward to helping advance the field of physician-patient communications. More importantly, I look forward to doing what I can to disseminate and make actionable the finding on behalf of those who will benefits the most – patients.

What things would you like to learn from this research?  Please let me know.

7 Comments

  1. i tould like to know how often the doctor asks for or hears what the patients goals are and if they are big goals, life goals , do they find a way to keep those goals as part of how they work with the patient.

  2. Bern Terry says:

    Hi, continue to love reading your work and pass it on…

    Thought you might like to see this – VGo allowing MD’s to communicate and interact with patients in their home environment… Healthcare IT News Would love to hear you feedback on this.

    Best to you, Bern

  3. Robyn says:

    Given the increasing use of advance practice RNs and PAs, it would be good to evaluate those communication skills as well–first, to see if there is a difference and if the groups can share and learn from each other, and second to see how patients are experiencing health care as they see more non-MDs providers.

  4. Congratulations on your research project. Keep us posted on what you find. I have a hypothesis: doctors who can change their style to match patient expectations are the best communicators. Engineer patients want all the scientific details but artist patients want to hear a reflection of their emotions. Salesmen have know forever that your style has to be adapted to each customer. Healthcare providers who approach each patient the same find only a few patients who like them.

  5. S. Reisner says:

    Isn’t Verilogue’s goal market research for pharmaceutical companies — that is understanding physician-patient communications so that they can sell more of their product, which may or may not have much to do with patient preferences or even medical best interest. Thoughts on that?

    • You are correct that Verilogue does sell findings from their research to pharma companies. The data that I will be working with will be raw audio recordings of what is said by physicians and patients. Period. I will not have access to Verilogue’s pharma data profiles nor do I need or want them…in part for the reason you mention…and because I don’t need them

      Having said that I would tell you that Verilogue has made their data available on other occasions to health care researchers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to such an amazing database.

      Good question though. Thanks for asking.

      Steve Wilkins

  6. Lori says:

    I look forward to your posts-great topics! I wonder if the research wil be skewed – doctors that participate in such a study would be more likely to be forward-thinkers and patient-centered, right? (I just pulling from my training and experience in clinical research.) given that, in not sure how you would gather such info short of sending patients in with a “wire.”
    I cannot imagine any of my doctors talking to me about my health goals, heck, I can barely get them to listen to my health complaints! My PCP is so averse to email, which I explained would cut down in his current daily backups, his extremely negative reaction was one that I would not have expected from my mild-mannered doc of 10 yrs. His staff refuse to take questions over the phone and INSIST that you make an appt. getting past them is like going into battle.
    How do you plan on disseminating the study results? Again, docs that don’t read Internet stuff (like my docs) aren’t gonna get this info. I’d be interested in learning more details about the study to see if my demographic and results queries are addressed.

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