Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Family Medicine Activist: The Patient's Story
I look on the front of the patient's medical record to look at their "sign-in" form where they write the "reason for this visit". Often, it says "to review labs" or "doctor told me to come back" and I feel disappointed that we're not connecting. I know they can get a better experience if they enter a health goal or personal life goal such as: to have a strong enough back to pick up my grandson or to breathe well enough to visit my daughter in New Mexico this summer or to have enough stamina to finish the motorcycle repair on my Harley before my spring vacation.
The Family Physician enjoys their personal goals and the opportunity to share the challenges with the patient and their family. We want to hear their story. It's usually the most important thing happening in the examination room. The physical exam supports or refutes the doctor's and patient's diagnostic hypotheses that evolve during the patient's story. Imaging and laboratory tests, if warranted, further clarify the probabilities associated with both patient and doctor hypotheses. Sharing the hypotheses and the probabilities between patient and physician as they change enriches the potential for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan- a treatment plan that will align the patient with their dream.
The patient's story is the key to goal alignment for both patient and family doctor. It's also the key to enhancing the patient- physician relationship which grows over time, promoting better outcomes for all involved.
Keep telling your stories, Folks, we love them.