Chapter 2: Bridging the doctor-patient communication gap
Every doctor wishes to see his patients get better. The strong urge to help and heal others is the primary driving force for choosing medicine as a profession. It is the ultimate service profession, and since it entails a one-on-one relationship, good doctors devote a lot of their time and energy in keeping their patients happy. Apart from making doctors feel good about themselves, patient satisfaction also makes immense business sense. Contented patients are the best source of new patients. Word-of-mouth marketing goes a long way in expanding a doctorfs practice. This is why happy patients make for happy doctors!
Whats worse, this sets up a negative vicious cycle. Doctors who have been abused by angry patients often start becoming resentful. They start practising defensive medicine and distancing themselves from patients to protect themselves. Also, doctors talk amongst one another, gathering from other doctorsf experiences that patients can be vengeful (for no fault of the doctors), and that doctors need to protect themselves from their patients! It is tragic that affairs have come to such a sorry state. A lot has been written about how the doctor-patient relationship has deteriorated in recent times. While many people are happy to blame doctors for this, unfortunately, no one has highlighted the role that patients play in damaging this relationship. Any relationship is a two-way street, and a doctor who has been sued or abused is no longer going to be the same person he was before the ugly episode.
This is why providing Information Therapy through websites and videos is such a great way of obtaining informed consent. It allows patients to understand what the likely outcomes are, at their own pace, in an unhurried, relaxed manner, so they have the time to think it through and make decisions accordingly. It saves the doctor time too, since he does not have to repeat the entire process himself for each patient. It ensures that all possible outcomes have been properly discussed; after all, sometimes doctors may forget some points too, when they are pressed for time. Finally, from a risk management perspective, clever websites that take informed consent online allow documentation of the fact that all risks and complications were properly explained to the patient, thus protecting the doctor in case of a lawsuit. Effective communication helps build relationships, and goes a long way in building a healthy doctor-patient bond that is mutually beneficial.