The Physician-Patient Relationship: Communication ‘Break Up’


The physician-patient relationship is one of the most important aspects of the health industry and contemporary medicine. There have been numerous changes and tremendous advances in the way health care is delivered to people. However, the importance of the relationship between providers and patients has not diminished or faded in any manner. In fact, the recent health reforms and advances in health IT have accentuated the importance of proper communication and interaction between health providers and patients. The impact of this relationship is holistic in nature and not only does it provide qualitative health outcomes, it is also financially beneficial to all the entities involved in the health industry.

The Role of Electronic Medical Records

The implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to successfully qualify as ‘meaningful use’ is one of the best ways of communication between the health care provider and the patient. Moreover, physicians stand to benefit from the incentives offered by the government by demonstrating such meaningful use, making such use of health IT financially justifiable. The 15 core objectives in implementation of EMR/EHR make it obligatory for providers to record numerous aspects of the patient’s health which actually enhances the communication between physicians and patients.

The Core Objectives of Meaningful Use

The exhaustive list of the core objectives automatically ensures that all the relevant data that is useful for better health outcomes is conscientiously recorded. This is a major step forward as far as communication between the provider and the patient is concerned.

The Menu Objectives of Meaningful Use

In addition to the core objectives are the 10 ‘menu objectives’ that further ensure proper recording of relevant data by providers. It would be obligatory for providers to record at least 5 out of these 10 objectives in order to demonstrate meaningful use of EMR/EHRs. Some of the important objectives in this set that would enhance the communication between physicians and patients and empower providers to make accurate and qualitative decisions are – using certified EHR technology to identify patient-specific education resources and provide those resources to the patient if appropriate, sending reminders to patients as per patient preference for preventive/follow-up care, providing patients with timely electronic access to their health information (including lab results, problem list, medication lists, and allergies) within four business days of the information being available to the EP.

The Office Setting

Patient satisfaction is also driven by the experience in a physician’s office or the office setting. Some of the factors that heavily influence patient satisfaction and loyalty are wait time, the interaction with staff, time taken for a routine appointment and even the body language of the physician and the staff. The physical environment in a hospital or a physician’s office also has an impact on patient satisfaction, and reluctance to visit again can set in if the patient feels uncomfortable in an office even if the service provided is excellent. The best way to improve the look of the office or to enhance services is to frankly ask patients for their opinion whether any improvements are required. For which again communication between Physicians, their staff and patients needs to improve.

Professional Back-up for Better Communications

The standardization of communication due to the use of EMR/EHR has plugged many gaps in the relationship between patients and physicians and the way health care is delivered. However, such changes still need to be implemented without any scope of error for providers to benefit financially and for efficient physician-patient communication. There are numerous back-office functions that compliment and support the communication aspect in the field of medicine and these functions require special skills from dedicated professionals who have in-depth knowledge of the health industry. The role of transcriptionists, assistants, medical billers and coders, and health IT professionals cannot be overemphasized in the constantly changing health industry.

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