When a doctor is a good communicator, three things are achieved: they improve the interpersonal relationship with the patient,they improve the quality of the information relayed to the patient and they include the patient in the decision-making process.
Improve interpersonal relationship
Good communication helps to ensure that the patient has a better understanding of the medical information that the doctor is revealing to the patient. The doctor can identify the real needs of the patient including their expectations and perceptions. The patient’s ability to share pertinent information with the doctor helps to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. The patient is more inclined to follow the doctor’s advice and treatment when the interpersonal relationship is strong.
Improves the Quality of Information
When the patient fully understands and agrees with the diagnosis and treatment and the follow-up prescribed, the ability to recover is improved. According to the National Institute of Health, studies have shown that the patient has a sense of control when communication is good. Their recovery, ability to perform daily life functions and ability to tolerate discomfort and pain is greatly enhanced. Doctors who communicate effectively are considered by patients to have a good “bedside manner” which causes them to conclude that the doctor is very competent.
Doctors were reluctant to reveal upsetting news to patients from the 1950s to the 1970s when informing the patient of a cancer diagnosis was considered inhumane. A paternalistic medical model was followed at that time. Communication and information exchange is now the medical model that is embraced by the medical community because of the health consumer movement that demands patient-centered care. Patient-centered care was first practiced in the ancient Greek school of Cos.
When the patient and doctor communicate well, they exchange, discuss and negotiate treatment options. Treatment is more tailored to the patient instead of applying a standard treatment plan. The decision allows the patient to have more realistic expectations of the outcome and to accept a greater level of risk and greater acceptance of the medical costs.
Studies have shown a reduction in the length of time the patient stays in the hospital which in turn decreases medical costs. Satisfied patients help doctors feel more rewarded by their job, feel less stress and less tendency to burn out. There is less likelihood for a patient to file malpractice claims when the doctor is a good communicator.
New York based, Dr. Gil Lederman is a world renowned doctor, specializing in radiosurgery. He was trained at Harvard University.