Why Patients Value Their Primary Care Physician

Primary Care Physician

There are few personal relationships more influential on a person’s quality of life than the one they have with their primary care physician. The average individual may not necessarily view it in those terms, but it’s true. People place their most important “possession” – their health – in the hands of their doctor, thereby assigning tremendous value to that health care professional. But why? Upon what factors is such value based? 

There are any number of reasons someone would value their primary care physician. Trust is, of course, the fundamental component of any successful relationship. But trust is not organic, it doesn’t just magically appear when people interact. There are reasons that people trust one another and reasons they don’t. Some seem quite reasonable or at least relevant. Take, for example, one of the most common: My doctor doesn’t listen. Others, not so much: My doctor makes too much money. 

So how does a primary care physician build the level of trust necessary to nurture a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship? The following are among the factors that seem most crucial to establishing the requisite level of trust:

1. Remember that your priorities often differ from those of your patients. 

While the health of your patient is one priority you share, there are others you don’t. Primary among these, perhaps, is your focus on running a successful medical practice. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. But, if your patients sense that they are simply revenue producers instead of individuals you care about personally, trust becomes difficult to maintain. As passe as it sounds, no one wants to be treated as if they’re simply a number.

2. It’s a personal professional relationship. 

In an informal survey conducted via Twitter by Ashish K Jha, physician and health policy researcher, he got the following results:

Ashish K Jha researcher

The top 3 responses – Empathetic, good listener, compassionate/caring/kind – all relate to communication. Not surprisingly, the ability of a primary care physician to effectively communicate with his or her patient is considered a crucial factor in determining what makes a good doctor. Subjective? Of course. But, understandable nonetheless.

3. Competence. 

What constitutes competence? Is it simply the technical ability of a physician or are there other components as well? Probably the latter. For example, you may be the most skilled primary care physician in your city when it comes to providing health care, but if you are often preoccupied, constantly late, spend very little time speaking with your patients or have a sour personality, you may not be considered very competent by your patients. Perception is reality and that’s especially true when it comes to how your patients view you. If you conduct your practice in an unprofessional, undisciplined and/or disorganized manner, it’s likely you will not be perceived as very competent. 

There are, of course, other factors that effect whether someone values their doctor. However, all of them involve whether the patient feels that they can trust you. There’s an old saying along the lines of “familiarity breeds contempt.” When it comes to patients and their primary care physician, however, it’s much more likely that familiarity breeds confidence, cooperation and comfort. And isn’t that just what the doctor ordered? 

Are you a primary care physician who wants to work for a community hospital? Apply to work for Elliot Health System!

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