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Many doctors make nice noises about patient "empowerment" -- but do they mean it?

Posted by Sharon W on 7/30/03 at 13:49 (125686)

The SECOND HALF of the article this link will take you to is what interested me; it's about something we've been discussing recently; what really happens when patients try to take an ACTIVE role in their own health care?? (Excerpts follow):

Sharon

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Demanding patients get results

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/usnews/20030730/ts_usnews/pulsetighttiesandbadeyesdemandingpatientsgetresults

'Doctors make nice noises about patient empowerment. They talk about how important it is for patients to take a greater role in their own health care. But physicians may like active patients better in theory than in real life. When patients do get more active, doctors complain that it's causing a strain on health resources–and a strain on them.'

'Those complaints--muted by and nestled within comments about how great it is that patients are becoming knowledgeable consumers--can be found in a study in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine (news - web sites). Researchers audio taped several hundred visits to 45 different physicians. About 25 percent of the time, when seeing a primary care doctor, patients asked the doctor to do something specific, like prescribe a drug or order a diagnostic test. (When seeing a specialist, like a cardiologist, people were much less likely to ask for specific services.)'

'The researchers note that when patients asked for action, their doctors acted, more so than when patients didn't ask for action. This falls right into line with a lot of research on doctor-patient relationships, which suggests that patients need to walk into a doctor's office with a 'to do' list of questions to be asked and requests to be made. That way the conversation--which is always compressed into a short time--is focused and the patient gets better results...'

'But sometimes doctors may be caught between a rock and a hard place: their patient and their institution. Organizations like HMOs and hospitals press doctors to keep down costs; ordering tests for patients costs money. That's an uncomfortable squeeze. But if a patient with a better chance for better treatment is indeed a more active one, that squeeze isn't going away...'
:D

Re: Many doctors make nice noises about patient "empowerment" -- but do they mean it?

Ed Davis, DPM on 7/30/03 at 14:42 (125693)

Sharon:

Patient knowledge and empowerment can be a good test of a doctor's loyalties. Is it to the patient or to the managed care organization?

An educated patient is often easier to treat and more motivated. Only docs in restrictive managed care situations would be against such a thing.
Ed

Re: Many doctors make nice noises about patient "empowerment" -- but do they mean it?

Sharon W on 7/30/03 at 15:47 (125709)

Dr. Ed,

I appreciate your comments, especially your remarks about educated patients often being easier to treat and more motivated. But, sadly, I cannot agree that 'only docs in restrictive managed care situations would be against such a thing.'

I think that FOR SOME DOCTORS a patient with a list of questions and a request for a new diagnostic test or to try out a new drug can be very trying or stressful because TO THAT DOCTOR it feels like their authority is being challenged or an insolent lack of respect is being shown for their superior medical education and their many years of experience treating patients.

Perhaps this is just 'a sign of the times;' certainly in any profession there are those who will be resistant to change.

As I have said before, I always appreciate doctors like you and Dr. Z who do SO MUCH more than just 'make nice noises' about patient empowerment. Both of you seem to recognize the importance of educating patients about their conditions and are willing to donate huge amounts of your own precious time to that end. Your generosity impresses the heck out of me!

Sharon
:)

Re: Many doctors make nice noises about patient "empowerment" -- but do they mean it?

marie on 7/30/03 at 17:07 (125713)

I'll toast to that one! =D>

Re: Many doctors make nice noises about patient "empowerment" -- but do they mean it?

john K on 8/01/03 at 18:09 (125922)

I think most doctors like patient empowerment as long as the patient shuts up and pays the bill.

john king