I often catch myself thinking about the nature of communication between doctors and patients.
Some events simply provoke a man’s lateral thinking.
Latest of these thought-provoking situations happened last Sunday while I was driving in the car with my daughters on the backseat.
My older daughter opened her mind and told us a story.
She expressed her feelings about the toy we had bought for her birthday. Heart wrenching words about why she chose a toy she didn’t like much, instead of the one that she really liked.
She dug deep into her inner feelings to find complex connections between random events, her emotions, and how all this influenced her choice of unwanted toys at the end.
It was the most honest and best narrated story I have ever heard and it came from the three-year-old girl sitting in the backseat, feeling like she was alone in the world.
This situation inspired an important question.
Why she didn’t tell us this when we were buying the toy?
At first, it had no connection with doctor-patient communication but answering this question actually explained a lot.
Maybe we all get used to the meetings, but…
Focusing on meetings as the only point of doctor-patient contact won’t take us far. No matter if these meetings are physical or virtual, 15 or 25 minutes long, it won’t work.
My daughter chose the wrong toy because a situation forced her to do so. She needed to see all of the toys, answer our questions, dig into her feelings, form opinions, and make a choice.
It was too much at the time, and it clouded her judgment in the end.
Similar things happens in healthcare, just systematically.
When a patient visits a doctor, it’s usually without previous communication. It’s all supposed to happen in one or two magical meetings.
These meetings always have a full plate. From making introductions, through review of medical history, to asking and answering all important questions. They are jam-packed with informations.
In the end, doctors will be forced to come up with a solution and patients will be forced to remember and be in alignment with things they don’t understand.
This is an insane concept, It’s designed for robots, not for us.
People are emotional creatures.
It isn’t just, “I will do this and you should do that.” We have accumulated fears, and we don’t think clearly most of the time. Especially if that time is spent discussing highly sensitive matters with a person we barely know.
After all, it’s no surprise that every meeting finishes with more questions than answers on both sides.
And what about unexpected changes and reactions in the meantime? What about important questions that pop up outside of meeting times?
Traditional healthcare doesn’t care about that.
You’ll get your 20 minute meeting on Thursday afternoon, and no one cares what is best for you. The show must go on!