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Supporting the Doctor Patient Relationship

Posted by | 10:34am on Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clearly, medicine is changing 

E-patients are in the vanguard of the movement toward a more patient-centered approach to healthcare.

What does patient-centered care mean to you? Opinions, differ, naturally. But the description offered by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is worth considering. Here are some of their points :

“Care that is truly patient-centered considers patients’ cultural traditions, their personal preferences and values, their family situations, and their lifestyles. It makes the patient and their loved ones an integral part of the care team who collaborate with health care professionals in making clinical decisions. Patient-centered care puts responsibility for important aspects of self-care and monitoring in patients’ hands — along with the tools and support they need to carry out that responsibility.”

Clearly, medicine is changing, and so is the relationship between doctor and patient. But what hasn’t changed is the importance of that relationship to health. Which is why the most valuable role pharmaceutical companies can play is to facilitate the relationships patients have with their doctors, making them stronger by identifying needs and developing tools that support communication and collaboration on the most important goal of all – the patient’s well-being.

Sometimes there is a need for tools that make it easier to live with a disease. Take, for example, Rufus the Bear with Diabetes, created by a mom named Carol Cramer to serve as a teaching tool and comfort for children like her son, who has Type 1 Diabetes.

Sometimes what’s needed is a tracking tool that has the potential to improve communication between doctor and patient, like the one offered by MS Lifelines for patients with multiple sclerosis.

How do you find out where the needs and gaps are? By listening to patients and the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who help them. Listen wherever you find your community talking – at conferences, yes, but also on blogs, forums, and social media. Listen for two words: if only.

Regardless of where the needs and gaps are, the best approach is to look for ways to support and enhance the relationship between doctor and patient, not fragment it. Find tools that enable patients to take a more active role in their care and improve their outcomes and their lives, tools that physicians see as an enhancement to their practice, not a challenge or an interference. Then your brand will be the one people remember because you’re actively contributing to the community’s well-being.

Do you have any good examples to share? Tell us.

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(Image courtesy of Navin Thakur via Flickr)

About Pamela Todd

Pam’s extensive work in online intelligence, competitive analysis and audits allows her to provide clients with insights into their audiences’ needs and preferences. She puts those insights to work in creating and implementing user-centric, interactive content strategies to reach targeted patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

View other posts from Pamela

  • http://www.twitter.com/bookwormplace Betty S.

    I enjoyed reading your article. It goes right along with a wonderful book I’m reading called “Time to Care” by Norman Makous, M.D. He also advocates the importance of the establishing a strong doctor-patient relationship. Over his sixty year career in medicine, he has seen the medical field completely transformed through growth in the technologically effective methods used. This relationship is a critical part of understanding the patient’s medical situation, making a diagnosis, and applying effective treatment. The book is filled with dozens of case anecdotes that illustrate this point.

  • Pam Todd

    Thanks for your insights. Technology has brought many important innovations to the healthcare landscape, but it hasn’t changed the importance of the doctor/patient relationship.

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