Report on Physicians’ Obstacles Echoes Findings in AAPL White Paper

By AAPL Staff
January 17, 2018

The Medical Economics survey responses echoed two findings in a white paper on the patient-physician relationship produced by AAPL.

For the fifth consecutive year, Medical Economics magazine asked readers about the primary obstacles physicians faced in 2017. The responses echoed two findings in a white paper on the patient-physician relationship researched, written and published earlier in the year by the American Association for Physician Leadership.

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The perspective from AAPL and The Beryl Institute takes a close look at the role communication plays in optimizing the patient-physician experience.

In “Top 10 Challenges Facing Physicians in 2018,” costs as a barrier to patient adherence and growing patient disrespect toward physicians were among the concerns listed by the magazine’s audience of primary-care physicians, cardiologists and practice managers.

Those issues were among many conclusions in Connected: Improving the Patient-Physician Relationship — and Health Care Itself — Through Communication, a white paper published in Nov. 30, 2017, by the AAPL in collaboration with The Beryl Institute. The report explores the dynamics of the patient-physician relationship and looks at the role communication plays in optimizing the experience.

The paper reviews the essential patient-physician partnership and the influence of physician leadership. Developed from interviews with multiple practitioners and patients, the perspective includes thoughts and reflections on barriers to optimal patient experience and provides recommendations for transforming the relationship through communication.

Medical Economics’ readers noted “ever-rising costs of prescription drugs” making “the task even harder” for physicians. “Studies from a wide variety of governmental, professional and non-profit organizations all point to the conclusion that adherence is closely tied to the cost of drugs, and what patients must pay out-of-pocket to obtain them,” the magazine says.

In AAPL’s white paper, Katherine Dietrich, DO, medical director of palliative care services at St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, Montana, expressed a similar concern.

“But there are also a lot of patients who I think are afraid to ask for additional help. Like, ‘I can’t afford those medicines.’ Well, maybe that medicine is too expensive but there are three other options that are cheap. And I think that if they were able to identify their issues for us, that, a lot of times, we can actually help maybe more than they even think.”

The magazine’s readers also lament the diminishing respect patients are developing toward caregivers. Reasons given are patients reading online about symptoms and ailments on the internet coupled with a reduced time they are able to spend with their doctors. 

AAPL’s research found that just as patients can feel disrespected if the information they present isn’t considered by their physician, physicians feel disrespected when their expertise takes a back seat to the internet.

“When people feel that ‘Dr. Google’ is just as good [as a doctor] … it’s very hard to take because we put in a ton of time [in med school and in practice],” Dietrich says. “We want the best for our patients. We want to be their source of information and help them.”

According to the Medical Economics report, which was published Dec. 25, 2017, the biggest challenge of the coming year facing physicians “avoiding burnout and remaining dedicated to medicine.”

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