In my own practice, I rely on trust to keep patients out of hospital and feeling well at home. New patients, in particular, tend to be anxious, but unnecessary trips to the emergency room can be avoided if sufficient time is invested up-front to explain to them the full range of support services available to them. It is vital that the patient can feel that the provider is competent and that they are a partner in their care. When these two conditions are met, the individual and the healthcare system are better served – patients can benefit through earlier detection of illnesses and prompt attention by the providers, and institutions can benefit from the enhanced HCP morale, patient satisfaction, and more appropriate resource and cost allocation even if the care isn’t necessarily less costly.
The doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct – and trust is a vital element of this relationship. It is by developing strong trust with patients that we will ultimately be able to honor the mission of medicine as envisioned by Hippocrates – to cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always. There is no overnight solution that will help us achieve the perfect healthcare model, but to convert the vision of patient-centered care into reality will require institutional emphasis on ideas such as communication training for providers, using better technology to help patients navigate appointments and results, and transparency regarding the cost of care.
Using empathy and allowing sufficient time to address concerns are key features of patient-centered care. Developing trust between doctors and patients is also important to ensure there is two-way communication. When done correctly, this model of care has the potential to satisfy both the patients and the providers, and pave the way for more cost-effective care.