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Health & Exercise Forum

The New Doctor-Patient Relationship - Part 2 of 2

Feb 25, 2013

Nick RussoPart 2 of 2

Guest Author: Nicholas J. Russo, The Commonwealth Medical College

Guest Author: Nicholas J. Russo, is a recent honors graduate of the Master of Biomedical Sciences Program at The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) where he participated in several research and community service projects. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Technological Systems Management Engineering and Biology from Stony Brook University in New York and plans to continue his education in medicine.

Trust is a necessary component to a happy, healthy and well-balanced life. However, it is not without its risks. But, when the trust is warranted, the risk is worth the benefit. New research shows that patients, who trust their physicians, have better outcomes…the doctor-patient relationship matters!

Patient Perception of a Trustworthy Physician

5 Ways Patients Feel Trust:

The general consensus for patients with whom I have spoken is that they want to be heard.  They want to know that their doctor truly cares about them and is going to go that “extra mile” for them when it counts. An article published in the Strategic Medicine Journal, reinforces trust as being a major factor for improving healthcare outcomes.

  1. The Physician Spends Time with You

Physicians who seem to be the most successful in establishing trust demonstrate that “they care” one gentleman stated.  It was more important for this patient feel special…not “feel like just another number.” While you may wait 45 – 60 minutes to see the physician, once seen, if needed, the same 45-60 minutes is spend directly with you.

  1. The Physician Initiates Patient Involvement in Healthcare Decision

Physicians should treat the patient as if they are intellectually capable of understanding the problem, when appropriate, and provides resources, websites, reading and material for further discussion on the next visit. It is also important that the physician and his staff respond appropriately to you questions and concerns.

  1. The Physician Takes Time to get to Know you as a Whole Person

An anonymous patient revealed that he appreciates that his new physician tries to bring a personal touch to the conversation as it makes him feel more connected and more eager to trust.  This same patient said that since switching to his new physician, he has noticed that his blood pressure and diabetes have been well controlled and he feels incredible.

While a physician does not have to be your best friend, they should make time to get to know you as more than the “overweight diabetic with high blood pressure.” For example, it might be important to know that you spend every weekend in the woods hiking and camping which may make you more vulnerable to deer ticks and . It might also be valuable to know that you have a high pain threshold and rarely overreact.

  1. The Physician Sees You 2 out of 4 Visits

While nurse practitioners and physician assistants are well-educated and an essential part of the delivery of quality healthcare, it is important to know that your care is being overseen by your physician. This can be accomplished by a quick visit in the treatment room or a follow-up phone call. Either way, it is important to see your physician at least 50% of the time you visit the office.

  1. The Physician’s Office is Consistent with Following Up

Does someone from the physician’s office return you phone calls promptly? Does the office contact you with information regarding the outcome of your tests (MRI, X-ray or blood tests, etc)?

In conclusion, it is important to have a good “doctor-patient relationship” to improve compliance, satisfaction and outcomes. Most patients believe that the quality of time is really the determining factor for whether or not they trust their doctor.  “I don’t expect the doctor to know everything there is to know about me but I do expect that for the time they are with me I feel as though I am heard,” an anonymous patient said.

As a student hoping to care for you and your family as a physician, one day, I whole heartedly believe that quality healthcare begins with a foundation of trust. What I have learned at TCMC so far is that trust is an important beginning of a great doctor-patient relationship that ultimately ends with the delivery of quality healthcare.

I encourage all patients to work with your physician to establish a relationship built on trust… to the degree that you would sign a blank check over to your physician, like Amos and believe that by trusting them with your life you are undoubting improving your health as well.

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum" in the Scranton Times-Tribune. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice in Scranton, PA and is an associate clinical professor of medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.