Health Care

What Doctors Want Patients to Know

| by Toni Brayer MD

Consumer Reports surveyed 660 primary care physicians about what they wish their patients knew and what they faced as professional challenges.  Some of the highlights are:

  • Doctors believed forming a long term relationship with the primary care physician is the most important thing a patient can do to obtain better medical care.  They believe continuity is really undervalued and patients who frequently switch doctors have more health problems and spend more on care than patients who have a relationship with one physician.
  • Doctors want respect and 70% said that respect and appreciation from patients had gotten worse since they started practicing medicine.
  • Doctors want patients to be compliant with advice or treatment and 37% said non-compliance affected optimal care "a lot".
  • Doctors don't think they are very effective at minimizing pain, discomfort or disability caused by a chronic condition.  Only 37% thought they were very effective, yet 79% of patients said their doctor helped to minimize their pain or discomfort.
  • Doctors want patients to know that each patient should keep track of their own medical history. Eighty nine percent said that keeping an informal log of treatments, drugs, changes in condition and tests and procedures would be helpful.  Eighty percent also thought taking a friend or relative to the office visit could be helpful.
  • Doctors are not convinced that online research is very helpful.  Only 8% thought it was helpful.
  • Doctors said the sheer volume of insurance paperwork was the number 1 thing that interfered with their ability to provide optimal care.  Financial pressures that forced them to see more and more patients and work more than 50 hour weeks to break even came in at number 2.
  • Doctors talk to drug salespeople more than patients realize.  The majority of physicians surveyed said they were contacted by pharmaceutical sales reps more than 10 times a month.
  • Doctors don't think patients knowing about malpractice claims or professional disciplinary action was of  value.  Only 17% of physicians surveyed said that information about disciplinary actions by medical licensing boards was "very valuable".

The survey was conducted online and that is certainly not a random sample of all primary care physicians.  The results are interesting but should not be interpreted as speaking for all doctors.

Originally posted at Everything Health