Barriers to Maintaining Doctor-patient Relationships

March 19, 2021

Doctors are finding it more and more difficult to build trusting, long-lasting relationships with their patients. Whether its spending more time inputting information into an electronic health record (EHR), negotiating with insurance companies, or just the sheer volume of patients they must see in order for their practice to be profitable, it appears the concern that doctor-patient relationships are declining is valid. Outlined in a recent article for Medical Economics, Jeffrey Bendix looks at four issues that have contributed to this decline.

The lack of time spent with patients is the main cause of declining relationships. This concern is cited by both doctors and patients alike. It is proven that doctors and patients have better relationships when they are able to sit down and talk about whatever they need to. With the added administrative work needed to be compliant, doctors are finding it harder and harder to spend the appropriate amount of time with their patients. Patients are feeling it too. In a recent paper written by the Institute of Medicine, 80% of patients stated they wanted their doctor to listen to them.

Secondly, doctors are finding that insurance requirements are also leading to friction between them and their patients. Tracking the requirements and limitations of insurance providers has created many problems that have put physicians in between patients and the insurance companies.

Doctors are also citing the use of EHRs as another barrier to building a good relationship with patients. Often doctors spend more time inputting information into the EHR while meeting with a patient making the patient feel like the third person in the room. EHRs are also making it harder for doctors to track and coordinate the care of their patients because most systems do not interact with each other. This makes transferring information more tedious, and often the information is not received.

Finally, doctors are finding that because of internet medical sights, advertising, and other media, patients are more informed. Although this does help, to some extent, by making it easier for patients to understand their health issues, it creates some difficulties for the doctors. Doctors state that they are spending more time explaining to patients why certain treatment options would not work for them even though they may have worked for someone else. This can create some friction with patients, which is compounded by the other issues that are breaking down the doctor-patient relationship.

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