Better listening leads to better patient care

Doctor examining patient

Photo credit: Getty/kazoka30

While much of the focus in healthcare today is on quality measurements and changes in reimbursement models, the best healthcare results really come about when the patient-doctor relationship is built on trust.

That’s the change Vikas Saini, M.D., a cardiologist and president of the Lown Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts, wants to create with Right Care Action Week, which kicked off October 17. The goal of this event is to get thousands of nurses, doctors and patient advocates listening to Americans talk about their health and the healthcare they receive.

New Whitepaper

CMS Doubles Down on CAHPS and Raises the Bar on Member Experience

A new CMS final rule will double the impact of CAHPS and member experience on a Medicare plan’s overall Star Rating. Learn more and discover how to exceed member expectations and improve Star Ratings in this new whitepaper.

“Listening promotes healing and causes no harm. In fact, it’s the bedrock of a genuine trusting relationship--something everyone wants from their doctors and nurses,” he writes in STAT. “In the tone of voice, in the subtlety of the pattern of pain, in getting the sequence of events right--that’s how a correct diagnosis is made and the person emerges from the patient. If all healthcare providers listened better, we would save billions of dollars and transform the system.”

An experience with one of Saini’s patients made real the power of this trusting relationship. The patient asked Saini for a second opinion after another cardiologist told her she needed open heart surgery but she wanted to postpone the operation. After reviewing her cardiac ultrasound--but, more importantly, spending time with her and realizing that she worked out many times a week with no symptoms--he decided to monitor her condition every six months. Recently, 10 years after the original diagnosis, she had the heart valve replaced.

Lesson learned? His patient's wish to put off surgery until after her retirement really was the right decision. Had Saini not taken the time to get to know his patient, the outcome could have been very different.

Suggested Articles

United Health Group has released what it believes is the "path forward" for the healthcare industry as it charts a course for broad reform.

President Trump will sign an executive order today that declares it a national policy to protect patients with preexisting conditions.

United Airlines is working with health company Color and GoHealth Urgent Care to roll out the first COVID-19 testing program for air travelers.