How the patient-physician relationship can help achieve quality outcomes

How the patient-physician relationship can help achieve quality outcomes

The shift from fee-for-service to value-based care has resulted in a new emphasis on quality outcomes in healthcare. Independent physicians, of course, have always been focused on providing the best care possible for their patients. One way to do that is to develop a positive and productive patient-physician relationship.

When the emphasis is on quantity over quality, the provider feels pressure to spend less time with each patient and to see more patients over the course of the day. Given a renewed emphasis on quality patient outcomes and helpful new technology such as electronic health records (EHRs), independent physicians are now able, once again, to spend more time with each patient.

A relationship is developed when the physician is able to focus on the patient rather than the paperwork. Listening to the patient’s concerns and providing clear information about diagnoses, test results, and treatment plans can make a huge difference to that patient. Giving the patient the opportunity to communicate with the provider after the visit also contributes significantly to developing a positive patient-physician relationship.

When patients are engaged and the provider takes the time to build a relationship, quality outcomes result. Erin E. Sullivan and Andy Ellner, MD, conducted a study of primary care organizations and found that all of the practices they studied “prioritize relationships with patients over cost and outcome measures …. The leaders of these practices all believe that by promoting relationship building on an individual patient level, favorable costs and outcomes will follow.”

A solid patient-physician relationship can build trust, prevent miscommunication, reduce errors, and generally result in better healthcare for the patient. A patient who clearly understands directions provided during and after the visit is more likely to follow those directions. A provider who is able to speak with and, more importantly, listen to the patient will have a better understanding of that patient’s concerns. The provider and patient both will then play an active part in the patient’s quality healthcare outcomes.