Training future doctors to enlist patients as partners in care

April 14, 2011

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

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 ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

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.