It seems obvious to those of us on the patient side of the interaction that our doctors should put our needs first. After all, we’re the customers. Then again, with the restrictions that have been put in place by insurance companies, it’s hard not to recognize that we and our physicians are scrambling to meet the requirements they‘ve set forth. Indeed, the insurance companies also seem to be missing the point that we are the customers.
That might change soon. The University of Missouri School of Medicine (MU) announced this week that it has developed a new test that measures a physician’s ability to deliver patient-centered care. The test has been in the works since 2005, when MU began an initiative to provide patient-centered care. As part of this initiative, medical students are graded on their ability to establish a rapport with their patients. They’re also graded on their ability to get to the complete reason for the visit – not just the reason written on the visit form. The test on these skills is given in the third year of medical school, when the students are most involved in direct patient care. The skills have been built since day one, through simulations and scenarios that mirror real life. A passing grade is required for graduation.
With the basic skill set firmly in place, MU is now moving beyond the skill set needed to pass the assessment and onto skills that address barriers to compliance. By exploring what potentially stands in the way of a patient completing the treatment as prescribed and thinking it through with the patient up front, it’s possible to come up with ways to get around potential stumbling blocks. Some of these solutions may include family participation or other forms of treatment. This process not only increases compliance, it builds a stronger relationship between physician and patient.
I’m encouraged to read that this newest crop of doctors is dedicated to improving patient/physician interactions. I’m also for anything that gets a doctor to look me in the eye when I’m speaking. Here’s to a healthy 2015!