Towards Effective Patient-HCP (Doctor) Communication

One thing I noticed as an administrator of a Facebook support group for hemodialysis patients is that many patients appear to be afraid of asking their doctor or a healthcare provider (HCP). I can recall one conversation with a fellow patient who posted in the group a question on what medication can he take because he has difficulty moving and talking, only to realize shortly that he was asking this question while already in the hospital as an in-patient.

On the other hand, there are some doctors who do not explain to patients what the latter’s medications are for, or what their lab tests are for, etc. It is as if they will only explain when asked. Or perhaps they believe they already successfully communicated everything to the patient.

A patient who hesitates asking and a doctor who doesn’t communicate unless being asked. No problem, right? Wrong!

As this article points out, an effective doctor-patient (or HCP-patient) communication “is a central clinical function in building a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship, which is the heart and art of medicine”.

Lack of good HCP-patient communication can lead to many problems actually including patient discontent. Because of problems regarding communication on either side, someone, for example a patient’s family member might resort to harming several HCPs in the ER as in this case. Apparently, the said family member (who thought his patient was not being immediately attended to) did not understand the triage system that was in place in the hospital and the lack of hospital personnel.

In this age of social media, some patients may turn to an online medium and rant in social media. And some HCPs do respond to those posts, somehow turning everything into a very public patient vs. HCP free-for-all word war that nobody wins.

And so this Saturday January 23, 9 PM Philippine time, let us talk about the HCP-patient communication using the hashtag #HealthXPh .

Together we will address the following questions…

T1. On the side of the HCP, what are the barriers towards an effective HCP-patient communication.

T2. On the side of the patient, what are the barriers toward achieving effective patient-HCP communication?

T3. What can we do to foster and improve HCP-patient communication?

See you in the regular #HealthXPh tweetchat!