Why Is the Public Losing Trust in Healthcare Professionals?
In days past, the relationship with a family physician was a close one, with adults often having the same physician that brought them into the world. Today’s health professionals operate under a slew of new rules and regulations, some of which arise from business forces and others that arise from the need to collect data about medical care. These requirements often impact doctors’ ability to maintain good patient contact and have had the result of reducing overall faith in health professionals. A number of factors impact this lack of trust:
Insurance Companies Influence Care
Health insurance companies exert a strong influence over many decisions that physicians make for their patients. They may dictate what types of treatments are covered, availability of medications, and limitations on physical therapy or other options. These restrictions can cause a conflict between what the physician would like for his or her patient to have, and what is actually covered and possible. However, the restrictions can also cause patients to have less confidence in their physicians’ ability to deliver care.
Health maintenance organizations have worked aggressively to keep down costs, but they have also provided less money for keeping physician’s practices going. Doctors must see more patients in order to keep their practices financially sound, which often makes patients feel rushed and given less opportunity to voice their concerns. Utilizing electronic media may provide a method for better doctor-patient communications in the future.
Additional Mandates Decrease Patient Time
The need to carefully collect data on patient care and outcomes is causing physicians to have less face-to-face patient time, which is often critical to serving their needs. When patients spend less time talking to the doctor, they feel they are receiving poorer quality of care. Utilizing nurses or physician assistants to collect this information may enable physicians to spend more time with their patients.
The federal government and many states require companies in the life sciences to record and report any interactions with healthcare organizations and providers. This aggregate spend requirement is intended to track the financial relationships between healthcare manufacturers and doctors. When these relationships work against patient interests, it can lead to a loss of trust.
Media Images of Doctors Result Cause Dissatisfaction
Another problem appears to be created by media, who often portray physicians in a self-serving manner, focused more on generating income than serving their patients. This portrayal has caused patients to doubt their physician’s commitment to their care and has undermined the essential doctor-patient trust that can help to ensure good outcomes.
Although the image of health professionals is suffering in the public, people still generally feel satisfied with their own personal physicians. Learning to communicate effectively with a physician can go a long way toward improved relations and better outcomes for patient care.
About the Author: Marlena Stoddard is a freelance writer who received her BA from University of Georgia.
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