Dr. Thaddeus Bell discusses the importance of a good doctor-patient relationship and gives his recommendations on how to improve that relationship.
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Communication and relationship with the patient is very, very important. We are now finding out that a lot of patients particularly women and—patients tell us that doctors can do a lot better in establishing a better relationship with the patient and in communicating with the patient. Communications mean that you have, you are not talking in syllables that the patient does not understand. That you actually sit down and you listen to the patient. And you give the patient a chance to tell you what is on their mind. Patients will trust you better and they will do what you asked if that relationship is a good one. And I think that that’s something that doctors are now beginning to understand. That’s right. The average time is about seven minutes. A lot of that is driven because doctors are in a hurry to get to the next patient so that they can generate more revenue. However, what we have to learn it would be that we have to teach medical students that patients will not do what you ask them to do if you do not establish a good relationship with them and if the communication is poor. And we see that happening everyday. In all of the surveys that are being done right now with patients, that’s one of the knocks that physicians have to take. And I think that even in medical schools right now, they are trying to teach medical students not only to be able to communicate with the doctor but they have to take the time to communicate with the patient. So, it's very, very important. I would recommend that they tell the doctor they didn’t quite understand everything that was said and can they make another appointment to come back so that they can understand. And these kind of things prevent complications down the road. For an example, I saw a patient the other day who did not understand how to take the insulin. And it was very obvious to me that she was very anxious about it. I was seeing her for the first time and I told her I wanted her to take her insulin just like she had taken it before. And she said, “Well you know, I really don’t have a real good understanding of that.: So, I had to stop, not go any further with her, have my nurse come in, sit down and explain to her what I wanted her to do. And then, check back with her and ask her whether she got it right. The other thing is sometimes it is worthwhile writing it down so that the patient can understand but I think when you do those little things, it shows the patient that you really care about what’s going to happen. And so it also tells them, it makes them feel better that they are going to do the right thing when they leave your office. It's really interesting to me how many patients really remember what instructions you gave them when they walk out of the door. So, I always try to ask patients to tell me what I just told you. And often times, you’ll be surprised how they get that confused.