The human side of healthcare

KEY TAKEAWAY:  It’s ironic that with apps and online health the one thing that’s missing is what patients really want; to be treated as individuals.  Time and time again, I keep hearing in research that the best HCP’s are the ones that take time to listen and to really understand a patient’s needs.

There is a serious disconnect in the way doctors are approaching healthcare and what patients really want and need.  The highest rated physicians are the ones who see their patients as people who have different needs and wants when talking with their doctor.

Apps and online health too often tend to take the “human approach” out of health and diagnose a condition rather than a person.  In retrospect, too many patients are used to going to the doctor, being seen for 10 minutes or so and walking out with an Rx.  Doctors, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury to spend a lot of time with patients.  They have to see as many patients as possible to make their practices profitable.

Some physicians are offering something called “concierge medicine”.  This requires a patient to usually pay a heft amount every year just to see a doctor with the thought being that the doctor can spend more time with them.  Not too many people are ready to lay down $3000-$5000 a year just to spend more time with their doctor.  In the last research group I observed the people became very agitated when the discussion of concierge medicine was brought up. As one woman said “pay $2000 every year just to see a doctor?”.

Exit surveys of hospital patients show that there is a huge need for improvement in patient-physician communication.  Most patients who spend time in a hospital often complain of too many doctors, who they don’t know, and being prescribed unknown medications.   When I was in the hospital after my bike crash my blood work showed that I was slightly anemic do I was prescribed a multivitamin at the cost of $15 a tablet.

These says when I go to the doctor I see a nurse practitioner who listens and prescribes me whatever I ask for based on clinical tests.   The first thing she asks me is “how are you feeling overall?”  and she spends time to ask me some pertinent questions regarding my health.  After each visit I get a text visit asking me to rate my visit from 1 to 5.  That is consumer focused healthcare.

Apps, online surveys and even online consultations are no substitute for a person to person interaction with an HCP.  Doctors need to stop treating conditions with a simple Rx pad and pen.  They need, like a detective, to ask probing questions because not everything can be treated with a pill.