Doctors challenged by patient discussions

March 17, 2013 at 8:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. doctor-patient conversation is tougher for physicians with today's more informed, more proactive and more in-control patients, researchers say.

Al Topin, president of Topin & Associates, who conducted the study, said he found the age-old, doctor-patient relationship has been changing dramatically.

"Specialists find themselves answering more questions, countering misleading information patients find online and even justifying their treatment recommendations," Topin said in a statement.

"The current physician practice is just not set up to handle the extra time these patients demand. Physicians in our study admit they need help in strengthening the bond they have with their patients and improving the doctor-patient conversation."

The exam room conversation between a doctor and a patient -- where everything from initial symptoms to therapy and compliance is discussed -- is a vital part of the treatment process, but today the patient is no longer passively listening. Patients are more opinionated and demanding of their physician's time, the study found.

After discussion with an advisory panel comprising of specialty physicians, nurse practitioners and patients, Topin & Associates conducted quantitative study of patients ages 50-73 -- to compare the panel's insights with patient expectations.

The study also revealed:

-- Patients want physicians to spend more time with them and feel negatively when they are not able to get more time.

-- Patients are comfortable bringing disease or drug information they've found online to their doctor appointments.

-- Patients' trust in physicians is no longer a given; they are not compelled to follow physician advice.

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