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A patient-centered view of the clinician-patient relationship

Authors
Tom Delbanco, MD
Margaret Gerteis, PhD
Section Editor
Mark D Aronson, MD
Deputy Editor
H Nancy Sokol, MD

INTRODUCTION

The relationship between doctors and patients is becoming more troubled. As smaller and smaller players in ever growing systems, those who offer care and those who seek it too often feel distant from one another. Doctors are told repeatedly how arrogant we appear, even as we ponder what is happening to the human side of care that attracted so many of us to medicine. Our patients send a clear message as more and more question our motives and the quality of our care.

How can we draw closer to those we serve? Three complementary strategies that focus upon the needs and concerns of patients as they define them could help sustain and enrich the clinician-patient relationship:

Clinicians can incorporate into their practices an organized and systematic consideration of each patient as a unique individual. A "Patient's Review" that specifically addresses the preferences, values, and needs of each patient can serve as a complement to the organ-specific review of systems we learn in medical school [1,2].

Clinicians can move beyond their individual patients and use survey instruments and other tools that invite patients to report collectively about their clinical experiences. Feedback of this sort can provide valid and reliable information about important aspects of doctors' individual practices and can be compared to patients' experiences regionally and nationally [3,4].

Clinicians and patients can share information and join in shaping treatment plans. Facilitated by rapidly spreading electronic health records and secure patient portals that increasingly accompany them, getting on the "same page" is rapidly becoming more feasible.

             

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Wed Sep 16 00:00:00 GMT 2015.
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