What are most physicians missing amongst all the bad news we continually hear in the physician lounges and the hallways?
It is the fact that despite all the negative stories about physician’s being a shill for pharmaceutical companies and out for profit at the patient’s expense, the patient is still on our side.
A Gallup poll during the raging health reform debate in 2009 had the public express trust that physicians were the group they trusted most to fix the healthcare system. In a 2011 Gallup poll, 70% of the public rated doctors as ‘high’ or ‘very high’ in terms of their honesty and ethical standards. Clearly, our patients realize that we have bad apples but they are a small minority to be found in every profession. I would argue that the 70% is low and we should aim, all together, to have that inch up into the 90’s despite the strong headwinds and the universal cynicism all around us.
There are a number of reasons why physicians have managed to ride the storm out better than some other professions. We have welcomed the advent of the patient as a consumer. The more discerning and involved the patient the better we feel about the patient’s participation and the outcome. The one-on-one relationship has survived the insurance companies and the government efforts to erect barriers between us. The trust between physician and patient has largely been preserved. All the better since there is a correlation between patient compliance and outcomes and trust in the relationship. The trend towards disclosing any medical errors and making a truthful apology will further cement this trust.
Comment:It is wise to draw a curtain in our exam rooms between the patient-physician team and the noise and clutter outside