A recent study found that diagnostic uncertainty was present in more than two-thirds of primary care visits. Put another way, in 2 out of 3 visits, your PCP doesn’t really know what’s going on. That makes a ton of sense to me, because an office visit is just a 10 minute snapshot in time for an issue that may be days, weeks, months, or a lifetime in the making.
Patients think of their condition as a story that plays out over time, with a beginning, middle, and end. Therefore, a 10 minute office visit is like picking up a book and reading one random page and asking the patient to take one minute to describe what happened in the previous 8 chapters.
Now that communication is just so easy (shooting off a text, sharing photos, Facebook status updates, etc.), doctors can be an active co-author in a patient’s story. It’s no longer restricted to a relationship built on inconvenient, occasional, $200 a pop oral conversations. The new way of communicating with patients is a far deeper, more involved conversation with occasional long exchanges and frequent short updates about progress. Communication is everything, in both personal and professional relationships. It’s about time we hit reboot on how doctors and patients communicate and problem solve.