Modern docs can take a lesson from ‘old school’ physicians

Doctors may want to turn back the clock and take a lesson from “old school” physicians, suggests Suneel Dhand, M.D.

That’s because over the last couple of decades, medicine has lost too much of the doctor-patient relationship that both parties once enjoyed, writes Dhand, an internal medicine physician and author, in a blog post on MedPage Today. Administrative and technological requirements have pulled doctors away from their patients, yet, “every doctor, patient and family yearns for more direct and individualized care,” says Dhand. 

So just what old-fashioned traits are patients longing for and how can doctors get back to that standard? Here are Dhand’s suggestions:

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  • Sit down and listen to patients and allow them to ask questions.
  • Make good use of ever-shrinking time with patients and don’t let them have the impression you are rushed.
  • Be a thoughtful problem solver and take the time to explain your diagnosis to the patient.
  • Take time to conduct a thorough physical exam, which Dhand calls a "lost art" replaced by a "protocol-driven, box-ticking exercise."
  • Read the medical chart before you walk into the exam room to make sure you know as much as possible about your patient.
  • Be an advocate for your patient, as old-fashioned doctors were free and independent to focus on their patients.
  • Don’t be distracted by a computer, tablet or smartphone. Cumbersome electronic medical records are one of the biggest barriers between a doctor and patient, he says, urging doctors and nurses to push to spend less time with their screen and more with patients.

“Old school is good,” Dhand says. As FiercePracticeManagement previously reported, strong physician-patient relationships promote better outcomes, which increasingly will affect practices’ bottom lines as they transition to value-based care.

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