Just three years ago, nurses, pharmacists and medical doctors topped the list of the most trusted professionals in the country, according to a survey conducted by Gallup.
Today, after sweeping healthcare reform has been enacted, office visits have become shorter and less personal, and people are being asked to take more responsibility for their health, trust is eroding.
It seems the problem may be related to communication.
Americans who once enjoyed low co-pays and bedside exams are now feeling more like metrics to be measured against the bottom line. They don’t understand why this is happening, but it’s clear who they blame: physicians.
Physicians, too, have experienced the changes–and they’re not always happy with them, either. Sadly, they rarely share their feelings with patients.
So maybe it’s time to clear the air and allow doctors to clear up some misconceptions. Here is a look at what physicians want their patients to know (but haven’t had the chance to tell them):
Physicians Want More Time with Patients
It is a fact of life that time is money. That’s why exams have gotten shorter. Due to declining reimbursements, physicians are forced to see more patients and perform more procedures.
Most doctors don’t like the shorter exams any more than their patients. In fact, many feel like they could significantly improve outcomes if insurance companies would simply pay for longer exams.
When it comes to what physicians want their patients to know, continuity often tops the list.
Some people take better care of their vehicles than they do themselves. Seeing your doctor on a regular basis is at least as important as getting an oil change every 3,000 miles.
Physicians can only help their patients enjoy the best possible health if they have a long-term relationship with one another. Research has shown that patients who rarely see their doctors or switch doctors frequently experience significantly more health problems than those who have regular visits with one general practitioner.
Your Opinion Matters
There seems to be a feeling among patients that their doctors know everything. The truth is, doctors need patients to play an active role in their health.
Physicians find it incredibly helpful when their patients ask questions, share information honestly and even disagree. At the end of the day, patients and physicians need to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes–and that can only happen if patients are actively engaged in the process.
Take Your Medicine
It seems like it should go without saying, but it is a commonly noted when the topic of what physicians want their patients to know comes up: Patients need to take their medicine.
Doctors prescribe medicine for specific reasons. If patients don’t take their medicines as prescribed, it significantly diminishes the likelihood of a condition improving.
It also complicates your physician’s job, because she or he will not know whether or not the medication was effective. This not only increases patient discomfort, but it unnecessarily increases the cost of care.
Don’t Rely on the Internet
The proliferation of websites devoted to providing information about health problems has led to people self-diagnosing. This can be problematic for physicians because it ultimately leads to people starting treatments recommended online. Often, these treatments are ineffective and can actually cause the real problem to go untreated, get worse or cause other health issues.
What Physicians Want Their Patients to Know
Patients need to trust their doctors, and doctors need to trust their patients. Maybe if everyone starts communicating openly, honestly and regularly, doctors can once again top the list of the most trusted professionals in the country.
Elliot Health System is proud of our trustworthy physicians. Would you like to join us?