According to a poll by Gallup in 2017, 71 percent of individuals believe the healthcare system is in a state of crisis or has significant problems. And a study published in the US National Library of Medicine found that one-third of participants actively avoid visiting the doctor. This avoidance is often due to financial, physical, or physiological barriers, such as fear of diagnosis or discomfort. So, the question is, how can we create a better care experience for our patients, easing their worries and increasing their trust in their care team? The answer is by providing more holistic, individualized care.
Curious to learn more? Here’s what patients really want in their care team.
Hadi Medical Group shares this: “Healthcare providers’ and professionals’ credibility is often reflected in the successes they have with regards to healing their patients from being sick. That’s quite logical because people seek medical attention to get well. But on the other side of the coin, patients need to be participative in their treatment plan and follow their doctor’s prescriptions judiciously to achieve a favorable outcome with regards to their health.”
In other words, individualized care is exactly what it sounds like—care directed to the unique person at hand with no prior bias or assumption. It should be considered a partnership rather than a patient-doctor relationship. For the patient, individualized care begins at the door. Think about it. Would you feel comfortable with a doctor or nurse practitioner who is grumpy, short minded, and uninterested? Absolutely not. Patients want to see friendly, engaged doctors who ask them questions about their specific signs and symptoms, gathering the facts on who they are and what concerns they might have while also digging deeper and considering all options.
In our internet-savvy world, patients can access many resources, including medical journals and online forums, and understand their bodies best. In fact, a 2019 study found that 89 percent of patients nationwide Google their symptoms before visiting the doctor. Patients want doctors that respect their opinion, listen to their concerns and theories, and are willing to collaborate. By following these guidelines, we can ensure optimal patient outcomes.
Physicians must remember that each individual has a different background, education, and level of understanding. They must speak to patients at eye level with clarity and empathy. Many research studies in the US National Library of Medicine review the patient-doctor relationship and the essential component of communication. They all speak to the same fact—the physician-patient relationship has changed over time. And doctors must understand how to communicate effectively. The tricky part is that each patient is different. However, the good news is that we’re all human beings, and if you take a simple and respectful approach, you’re sure to find success.
Finally, patients want doctors that take their time, provide thorough after-visit instructions, and offer recommendations if specialists are needed. They don’t want to be left alone to fend for themselves. With the implementation of secure digital healthcare portals and messaging platforms, it is easier than ever to maintain strong relationships, follow-up with patients, and share additional after-care information. This applies across all specialties, from dentists to medical doctors and physicians. Communication is key to success and satisfaction.
Health Leads shares this: “Under a patient-centered model, care teams work to know and treat the full patient—developing individualized, comprehensive care plans in which mental health and social needs receive equal attention to traditional medical treatment.” We reviewed the individualized approach, but now we need to dive into the second aspect of this model: holistic care.
Holistic care encompasses four elements of a patient’s life—physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. It is also a term used to describe comprehensive patient care, with medical professionals collaborating to determine the best care plan for that individual patient. Patients prefer this approach as it is more thorough, is more cost-effective, and has better outcomes.
In the past, emotional, social, and spiritual health were not a focus, as the primary goal of healthcare providers was to improve an individual’s physical symptoms. That said, we now understand just how essential our mental health plays in our health and wellbeing. When treating patients, providers consider trauma and avoid it; instead, they opt for more conservative treatments that leave the patient feeling more comfortable.
It’s also essential to build a strong network of medical doctors and specialists, collaborating to create better patient outcomes versus a disconnected, frustrating bunch of independent providers. The old model is broken. And it leaves patients and doctors frustrated and with worse results. The new model makes sense and, thanks to modern technology, is easy to implement, cost-effective, and, well, just better.
The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) is an excellent example of a healthcare organization that seeks to advance holistic, integrative health globally. In a recent Forbes article on AIHM, writer Robert Reiss shares, “It is time to unite the many voices in integrative health, to build bridges between professions, offer credible evidence-based certification programs for licensed healthcare providers, advocate for affordability and accessibility on behalf of all patients and practitioners and build leadership capacity in the next generation of caregivers.”
Holistic, individualized care is the future of healthcare. It’s time to develop our communication skills, foster a collaborative, comprehensive environment, and pave the way for better patient outcomes. Together, we will create a happier and healthier population in the future.