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BIG THINKING

Why I don’t want my doctor to call me

back to Big Thinking arrow
BIG THINKING

Why I don’t want my doctor to call me

Sophie Dickinson
Analyst
Hall & Partners

LinkedIn Email

We all know GPs are very busy.

If your local practice is anything like mine, it can take weeks to get an appointment, making it an extremely frustrating experience. The last time I tried to book an appointment, due to a 4-5 week wait for a consultation (no, really), I was offered a telephone slot instead. At the time I thought ‘great, I’ll take it!’ However, I couldn’t help feeling as if this was a lesser substitute to a face-to-face appointment. If I’m honest, I have the same niggling internal conflict with technological advances in other areas of healthcare.

It is also something that has become more apparent to me whilst working within market research. There is a large emphasis on gaining as much data as we can in the most efficient way we can. Often efficiency goes hand-in-hand with making things more digitally streamlined. But until you get in front of people, interact with them, listen to what they have to say and analyse how they behave you miss those crucial nuggets of information which gives greater insight into the overall research. If we can better understand patient journeys within health, then not only does this benefit the pharma companies we work with by leading them to enhance their patient centricity, but this also leads to patients feeling more respected and understood.

But don’t get me wrong, there are countless positive and exciting advances happening rapidly that are promising big reforms within our healthcare system:

Robotics in surgery


 


VR headsets to help patients with brain damage


 


Wearable tech that allows physicians to remotely monitor patients with long term conditions.


 



All these inventions are going to be essential in a healthcare system which is struggling to meet the demands of a growing, ageing population. However, all these advances involve more independence from physicians and physicians becoming more reliant on assessing patients digitally. This could mean we are in danger of overlooking the important qualities of face-to-face interactions and the power of touch in doctor-patient relationships.


The danger with technological advances in healthcare is that we may be becoming detached from the physical aspects of care


Health Psychology can teach us a lot about the importance of these qualities; there are several models and theories unpicking how doctors make decisions. In a traditional consultation, doctors go through a problem-solving process, assessing the nature of the problem and the available data to develop hypotheses and solutions to it. Much of their decision-making happens very early on within this process and as such, first impressions are key. In face-to-face consultations, doctors are only focussed on the patient in front of them. This means they can distinguish whether what the patient is actually telling them is in line with nonverbal cues, like body language – this happens the moment the patient walks through their door. Through this iterative process, the doctor is able to investigate, diagnose and comfort the patient using all their senses. Likewise, for a patient, if a doctor is engaged, they will show this through their body language, physical assessments and what they say to you. These different aspects lead to a successful patient-doctor relationship forming, which is key for decision-making and ongoing care.

The danger with technological advances in healthcare is that we may be becoming detached from the physical aspects of care and lose the opportunity to enhance the important relationship between a doctor and patient. We mustn’t forget that behind the data and technology there is a human patient who, like me, appreciates the attentiveness of a doctor who is willing to step out from behind the screens.

 

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We all know GPs are very busy.

If your local practice is anything like mine, it can take weeks to get an appointment, making it an extremely frustrating experience. The last time I tried to book an appointment, due to a 4-5 week wait for a consultation (no, really), I was offered a telephone slot instead. At the time I thought ‘great, I’ll take it!’ However, I couldn’t help feeling as if this was a lesser substitute to a face-to-face appointment. If I’m honest, I have the same niggling internal conflict with technological advances in other areas of healthcare.

It is also something that has become more apparent to me whilst working within market research. There is a large emphasis on gaining as much data as we can in the most efficient way we can. Often efficiency goes hand-in-hand with making things more digitally streamlined. But until you get in front of people, interact with them, listen to what they have to say and analyse how they behave you miss those crucial nuggets of information which gives greater insight into the overall research. If we can better understand patient journeys within health, then not only does this benefit the pharma companies we work with by leading them to enhance their patient centricity, but this also leads to patients feeling more respected and understood.

But don’t get me wrong, there are countless positive and exciting advances happening rapidly that are promising big reforms within our healthcare system:

Robotics in surgery


 


VR headsets to help patients with brain damage


 


Wearable tech that allows physicians to remotely monitor patients with long term conditions.


 



All these inventions are going to be essential in a healthcare system which is struggling to meet the demands of a growing, ageing population. However, all these advances involve more independence from physicians and physicians becoming more reliant on assessing patients digitally. This could mean we are in danger of overlooking the important qualities of face-to-face interactions and the power of touch in doctor-patient relationships.


The danger with technological advances in healthcare is that we may be becoming detached from the physical aspects of care


Health Psychology can teach us a lot about the importance of these qualities; there are several models and theories unpicking how doctors make decisions. In a traditional consultation, doctors go through a problem-solving process, assessing the nature of the problem and the available data to develop hypotheses and solutions to it. Much of their decision-making happens very early on within this process and as such, first impressions are key. In face-to-face consultations, doctors are only focussed on the patient in front of them. This means they can distinguish whether what the patient is actually telling them is in line with nonverbal cues, like body language – this happens the moment the patient walks through their door. Through this iterative process, the doctor is able to investigate, diagnose and comfort the patient using all their senses. Likewise, for a patient, if a doctor is engaged, they will show this through their body language, physical assessments and what they say to you. These different aspects lead to a successful patient-doctor relationship forming, which is key for decision-making and ongoing care.

The danger with technological advances in healthcare is that we may be becoming detached from the physical aspects of care and lose the opportunity to enhance the important relationship between a doctor and patient. We mustn’t forget that behind the data and technology there is a human patient who, like me, appreciates the attentiveness of a doctor who is willing to step out from behind the screens.

 

Share this article

 

Sophie Dickinson
Analyst
Hall & Partners

LinkedIn Email