The heart and art of medicine is effective communication between a doctor and patient, which in turn a key to building a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship. A good and effective exchange helps the physician with understanding what the patient is going through. In older times, doctors would diagnose a patient and decide on a treatment without even asking for the patient’s input on how they felt about the procedure. It was all a very robot-like affair then, with the doctor fixing the affected part of the body, and having the first and last word.
Things have fortunately taken a turn for the better because doctors cannot cure all illnesses in time as short as one day. Long-term and difficult illnesses like cancer require a patient to go through physical treatments from which they suffer negative side effects. Then begins a slew of psychological problems paired with social troubles as the patient might fail to fulfill normal social tasks. Good communication helps a doctor deal with every individual need of the patient and helps compartmentalize them according to severity. Now patients also have a say on whether they would like to go through with a treatment depending on how they can deal with probable side effects or if they can afford it.
A good doctor-patient relationship can have a therapeutic effect on the patient, which can significantly improve the outcome of the whole treatment. Professional health practitioners are good communicators who respect their patient, understanding that the patient is also a human being with opinions and feelings.
Serious miscommunication in the doctor-patient interaction can be a potential pitfall especially considering the patient’s perception of their prognosis, expectations, the involvement of treatment, and purpose of care. On decisions regarding treatment and end-of-life care, patients’ choices might differ depending on how accurately they relayed the symptoms and how well the doctor advised treatments accordingly.
As both doctor and patient express their thoughts and feelings during an interaction, trust and transparency are undoubtedly one of the most crucial factors in a doctor-patient relationship. Insincerity in a health professional is an undesirable quality, which patients can recognize easily when a doctor pretends that they care. If the patient comes to trust the doctor, they would be more likely to take into account the doctor’s opinion and accept his advice. Transparency encourages the patient to feel more involved in their treatment and play a role in the decision-making.