How Patient Insights Can Shape Medical Practice and Communication

“Based on recommendations my doctor makes, I research and then discuss concerns and options. Together we develop a treatment plan.”

Those are the words of a 63-year-old woman who after ten months of treatment for her Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer successfully obtained disease remission. In an Inspire survey, she describes a scenario of shared decision making that is desired by many–not just patients and physicians, but others across healthcare continuum.

Still many patients find it difficult to ask their doctors questions of real importance, or show their doctors information they researched independently. Effective physician-patient communication is crucial, and it can affect every component of the patient’s care, particularly managing self-dosed medication and the potential issues that may arise.

As Dr. Peter Pronovost said in a Wall Street Journal article, “When doctors take the time to listen, the treatment decisions and care plans that they develop will better reflect their patients’ wishes; in turn, those plans are more likely to be followed by patients.”

More informed, with desire to collaborate

Inspire’s second annual patient survey shows that 92% of respondents go to doctor’s appointments prepared with notes or questions to help guide the discussion. While making sure patients have the most accurate information available is the first step, it’s essential that they know how to present this to their physician in a way that enhances, rather than stifles, the conversation.

“I feel that increasingly it is up to the patient to manage their own health care, (and) do a lot of research on their own and bring their thoughts and questions to the doctor,” one Arthritis patient told us in the survey. “I almost always feel rushed when I go to the doctor, so feel better if I have notes with me.”

In an earlier polling of Inspire members, patients and caregivers told us what they wished their doctors knew about them. Some of the common sentiments shared by many patients included:

  • Interactions with patients should be as supportive as they are informative
  • The importance of information exchange and reflection
  • Balancing quality of care with time limits

Interestingly, many patients didn’t just say they wished for more time with their doctors. They wish for better quality interactions. Many of the concerns that patients raised can be addressed if doctors had more and deeper insights into their patients, and how to engage with them.

We see that with increasing access to information, our members are seeking to initiate treatment discussions. Not only are patients struggling to find the right place to jump in during their office visits, but also acceptance from their physicians of these potentially valuable insights.

While most are simply looking to further shift the traditional physician-patient paradigm, others have suggested new ways of interacting with healthcare professionals to convey information. Leveraging 21st century technology (text messages, emails, video conferencing, etc.), some patients would like to see more “on the fly” solutions that they could use to get answers quicker than their regularly scheduled appointments. While some insurance companies have adopted these methods there is a large opportunity for the healthcare industry to increase the prominence of these tools.

As 65-year-old osteoporosis patient told us, “Patients are on the Internet anyway. Doctors could be using this as a tool to educate, treat, and track habits and progress towards health goals.”

Guest blog post by Dave Taylor, who is the director of research at Inspire, a healthcare social network with nearly 900,000 registered members. Taylor was a featured presenter on the recent Inspire webinar, What I Wish My Doctor Knew: Gaining insight into what patients and caregivers want to say but don’t.

To hear more from Inspire be sure to join them at Digital Pharma East, taking place October 24-27, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. This year’s event brings together more than 800 pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device innovators who are implementing company-wide digital ecosystems to embed digital health across all channels to enhance customer experience. To learn more about this event please download the brochure or visit the website. Click here to register and be sure to mention Priority Code C649BLOG.

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