Training future doctors to enlist patients as partners in care

April 14, 2011, Indiana University School of Medicine

With mounting evidence that patient-centered care improves medical outcomes, investigators from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine are providing a call to action for the training of future physicians to master relationship skills as well as the burgeoning scientific knowledge needed to practice 21st Century medicine.

"Crossing the Patient-Centered Divide: Transforming Health Care Quality Through Enhanced Faculty Development" appears in the April 2011 issue of the journal .

"Medical education today is outstanding at teaching the biological domain, but patients and their families expect more of their physicians than to be diagnosed and sent on their way. They want to have meaningful discussions with their health-care providers," said Richard M. Frankel, Ph.D., Regenstrief Institute investigator and professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine.

"We know that greater patient involvement in health care improves the quality of that care and lessens the number of medical errors. There is a growing body of evidence that good communication skills among health-care providers and between providers and patients lead to better outcomes," said Dr. Frankel.

What can be taught to help physicians partner with patients? Dr. Frankel and co-authors Thomas S. Inui, M.D., Regenstrief Institute investigator and professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, and Florence Eddins-Folensbee, M.D., of Baylor College of Medicine, propose three target areas.

  • Mindful practice — training medical students, faculty and practicing physicians to be more mindful of their own preconceptions, prejudices or other factors that may "slip through the door" into their interactions with patients. Also, since patient-centered care is person-to-person interaction, increased physician empathy and compassion and ability to convey these feelings should be encouraged.
  • Formation — using the arts – poetry, music and movement – to help physicians stimulate self-awareness and remain in touch with their own values, hopes and dreams.
  • Communication — improving the communication skills of physicians and other health professionals. According to the Institute of report, "To Err is Human," breakdowns in communication are the key cause in up to 80 percent of adverse medical events. Improved communication decreases the number of these mistakes.
A century ago the Flexner Report revolutionized medical education by focusing on mastery of biological and physical sciences. The standard of patient care in the 21st century goes far beyond these parameters and the authors call for medical education to catch up and even lead the way toward the future.

The authors write: "Given the increasing pressures on medical educators to cover more and more information in less time and the parallel challenge for practicing of seeing more patients and having less time to do it, one might ask whether there is room in the (medical school) curriculum and whether we can afford the expense of teaching a whole range of additional patient and relationship-centered skills that integrate mind, body and spirit. We would ask, based on the best available evidence and consequences of what happens when patient and relationship-centered skills are absent, can we afford not to?"

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2017

December 20, 2017
It was a good year for medical research as a team at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, found that dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain. Any exercise helps, the team found, but dancing ...

Pickled in 'cognac', Chopin's heart gives up its secrets

November 26, 2017
The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world's most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.