Improving Communication with Your Patients |Jan 17, 2024
In his seminal work "Being Mortal," Atul Gawande delves into the evolution of doctor-patient relationships, highlighting three distinct types. The first, a paternalistic approach, is reminiscent of older medical practices. Here, the doctor, as an authoritative figure, directs the patient's course of treatment. This method, once the norm, is now less prevalent, with modern patients preferring to be more involved in their healthcare decisions.
Gawande then describes a second type: the informative or retail relationship. This model offers patients choices regarding their treatment but often lacks comprehensive information. As a result, decisions may be made based on limited factors like cost or fear, without a full understanding of the implications.
The third and most progressive type is the interpretive relationship. This approach embodies a collaborative decision-making process, where doctors provide detailed information about all treatment options, including costs, time commitments, potential outcomes, and associated risks. This method emphasizes informed consent, ensuring patients understand the short-term and long-term implications of each choice.
Gawande advocates for this third model as the ideal. In this paradigm, patients have greater control and understanding of their medical journey. Such empowerment not only allows for more personalized healthcare but also fosters a sense of ownership in patients, which can positively impact their healing and overall well-being.
This shift towards shared decision-making in healthcare reflects a broader societal change towards individual autonomy and informed choice. By embracing this model, doctors can better support their patients, not just as medical experts but as partners in the journey towards health and recovery.