At the end of February, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is hosting its Annual Educational Conference. The conference will take place in sunny San Diego and is set to have more speakers and informational sessions than in years past.
This year’s theme, ‘Meaning in Medicine: Compassion and Connection,’ describes what visitors can expect to experience during a rotation with AMOpportunities. In support of this year’s theme, two AMO team members will be attending the conference. Our programs team is looking forward to sharing AMO’s story and making connections that can lead to greater compassion and connection moving forward.
Per this year’s theme, we are releasing a series of blog posts tied to creating meaningful connections in medicine. The first post in this series will cover a recent article published by Stanford Medical School on practices to improve physician and patient communication. Continue reading below for more information on why communication with patients is lacking and how you can combat this one case at a time.
The Cornerstones of Good Patient Communication
In modern society, it can be challenging to feel heard. With technology, especially social media, driving most communication, viewers, readers, and listeners can tune out at their pleasure. One place in modern society where tuning out should not be the norm? The doctor’s office. In the last five years, reports of physicians ignoring, half-listening to, or disregarding patient concerns and needs is becoming increasingly prevalent.
These numbers are strong among seniors, women, and certain ethnic groups, all of which report that their medical concerns are not being taken seriously. In an expensive healthcare system, patients want to make the most of their appointments and take preventative measures to stop minor concerns from becoming full-blown medical issues.
Stanford physicians recommend that physicians go back to the basics when it comes to interacting with patients.
Before you see a patient be sure to consult their medical history. Also, be sure to review any notes provided by nurses or secretaries which were recorded at the time the appointment was scheduled. These tools provide insight into the patient’s symptoms, which can lead you to predict what the diagnosis might be. It can even lead you to plan possible treatment options in advance. Proper preparation can create smoother visits and decrease appointment times.
Be an Active Listener
Active listening is the best way to show a patient that you genuinely care about their health. This means making eye contact and letting the patient speak without interjecting. Although technology can be a great tool to effectively record and consult patient histories, it is vital to make sure it is not a distraction.
Another good way to show you are actively listening is to ask clarifying questions. This shows the patient that you understand what they are saying and want more information. Additional information can lead you to understand the scope of the patient’s condition and provide the best solutions possible.
Read the Patient
Nonverbal cues can provide valuable information that may allow you to have a deeper connection with your patients. Nonverbal cues include a patient’s posture and physical disposition. It can also include their tone of voice, the speed with which they talk, or the absence of vocal responses. Taking these into account can help you set a patient’s mind if worried. Reading these cues can make you a more intuitive physician and lead to greater connections with patients.
The key to improving physician and patient communication is to decrease the number of distractions and be present with them. Doing so can increase trust and patient satisfaction, leading to exceptional patient health outcomes.