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Scans and X-ray requests convey something to the patient

Respondents

Carly Flumer

BJ Miller

Eric Last

Mike Rabow

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The questions you ask in a doctor’s room matter

Respondents

Carly Flumer

David Rakel

Eric Last

Kimberly Richardson

Dana Deighton

Special mention Michael Bungay Stanier

Photo by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash

What’s on display in a doctor’s office matters

Respondents

Carly Flumer

Eric Last

BJ Miller

Dana Deighton

Hala Durrah

Photo by Jonne Huotari on Unsplash

The prescription at the end of the consultation

Respondents

Rick Davis

Carly Flumer

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash

A meeting between doctor and patient takes planning

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

The respondents to this question have all previously been guests on the Health Design podcast.

Dr. Eric Last

Dr. Steve Trumble

Hala Durrah

Kimberly Richardson

Lesley Kailani Glenn

Carly Flumer

Rick Davis

Experts asked if your doctor knows enough about you

In a new series for the Journal of Health Design I had the pleasure of asking my guests a series of questions following our previous conversations. This is the first of those questions.

Picture by: Photo by engin akyurton Unsplash

Assuming a persona might help to arrest Covid

‘The Art of Doctoring’ available from Amazon books

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Telehealth is not fit for purpose in primary care

As a response to Covid-19 in Australia there is the scope to consult a doctor by telephone or video. The appointment is scheduled at a specific time and the doctor will ask your name, date of birth and address to confirm your identity. Some practices will offer these consults to people who are not eligible for the government rebate for a private or insurance fee.

The type of problems presented to doctors vary from acute to chronic illness. There might be requests for repeat medications or a discussion about test results. Reflecting on the variety of problems presented it is evident that in many cases people are seeking to talk to doctors about issues that need a face to face appointment to be managed safely.

Do you know what this tiny red spot is on my eye lid?

I just want a referral to a psychologist. I don’t want to talk about why on the phone.

My two year old daughter had a rash yesterday. It’s getting better I just need a note to say she can go back to child care.

I think I’ve got meningitis, but it’s getting better today. What do you think?

I had a migraine yesterday and need a day off work.

I think my daughter has nappy rash.

I’ve got iron deficiency anaemia. Another doctor far away did the test for me. I don’t like eating meat and I don’t like taking iron tablets. I’ve googled it and I want a injection of iron. Please leave a script at the desk for me.

It may be true that the patient should not travel to the clinic if possible to reduce any risk of infection. On the other hand it may also be true that the convenience of having an appointment when it suits has made it all too tempting to present problems that need an in person visit. It is often impossible to diagnose the problem based on an exchange over a crackly telephone line with patient who may not be able to hear or speak the language fluently. The patient may believe that a doctor who they know has been paid for the service will satisfy them with a script, certificate or referral in the way that any other telephone service operates. However the model for Uber Eats or Amazon does not fit healthcare where the need for information exceeds just the name, address and date of birth.

Covid will change everything including the way we consult doctors however not all changes will be for the better and telehealth consults that nurture unrealistic expectations will do more harm than good. It is rarely possible to meet the needs of all patients who might possibly have a telephone call with a doctor. In a trial of telephone consults more than 60% of patients needed to be seen face to face. If then those patient are advised that they must be seen in person, notwithstanding Covid the reality that the doctor is unable to meet their expectations may become a source of dissatisfaction and stress for all concerned. The art of doctoring is primarily an in-person activity. Telephone consults are adding to the challenges in primary care at the most stressful time.

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Playing Tennis With Snow Boots On

Medical students and doctors use narrative skills on a daily basis. Taking a history from a patient, summarising a case for senior colleagues, and recording or reading a patient’s notes all require the construction of a meaningful chronological sequence, with important events included and less important ones omitted. Similarly, when doctors compare and contrast clinical presentations and cases from their own experiences, write up case reports, or document patients’ own accounts, they rely on narrative to structure their thoughts and conclusions

Hurwitz et al. BMJ 2012

My interview with Barbara Hirsch on Narrative Medicine.

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Making it more likely you’ll be heard doctor

Background Good communication skills are integral to successful doctor–patient relationships. Communication may be verbal or non-verbal, and touch is a significant component, which has received little attention in the primary care literature. Touch may be procedural (part of a clinical task) or expressive (contact unrelated to a procedure/examination).

Aim To explore GPs’ and patients’ experiences of using touch in consultations.

Design and setting Qualitative study in urban and semi-rural areas of north-west England.

Method Participating GPs recruited registered patients with whom they felt they had an ongoing relationship. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews and subjected to constant comparative qualitative analysis.

Results All participants described the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication in developing relationships. Expressive touch was suggested to improve communication quality by most GPs and all patients. GPs reported a lower threshold for using touch with older patients or those who were bereaved, and with patients of the same sex as themselves. All patient responders felt touch on the hand or forearm was appropriate. GPs described limits to using touch, with some responders rarely using anything other than procedural touch. In contrast, most patient responders believed expressive touch was acceptable, especially in situations of distress. All GP responders feared misinterpretation in their use of touch, but patients were keen that these concerns should not prevent doctors using expressive touch in consultations.

Conclusion Expressive touch improves interactions between GPs and patients. Increased educational emphasis on the conscious use of expressive touch would enhance clinical communication and, hence, perhaps patient wellbeing and care.

Simon Cocksedge, Bethan George, Sophie Renwick and Carolyn A Chew-Graham
British Journal of General Practice

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