Improving doctor-patient relationships

June 12, 2012

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Communication is paramount to the success of most relationships—especially in the case of doctors and patients, when lives can literally hang in the balance. OK, that may be a bit dramatic but imagine trying to put a puzzle together without all its pieces: Sure, you might be able to get the edges in order but you won’t get the full picture. The same can be said of patient interviews; of course, these communications are often incredibly personal—and require a degree of comfort and trust.

Carolyn and Matthew Bucksbaum made their fortune building shopping malls. Last year, they gifted more than $40 million of that fortune to the University of Chicago to create the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence, a unique initiative that will focus on how to improve doctor-patient interaction. The institute’s associate director, Matthew Sorrentino, says that there is emerging evidence that good communication with a patient can lead to better outcomes—when patients better understand their condition and course of treatment, Sorrentino explained, their compliance with medications and lifestyle recommendations improve.

So what do you look for in a doctor-patient relationship? Is it all about the bedside manner or do you prefer the brass tacks, “just give it to me straight, Doc” delivery? As the doctor-patient bond the bond is increasingly tested by modern medicine and all its trappings: insurance providers, specialists, the Internet and rising costs, Sorrentino and Dr. Rahul Khare, who sees his fair share of patients in Northwestern’s Emergency department, help us take a long hard look at what’s happened to the doctor-patient relationship.

What kind of relationship do you have with your doctor?