Can the doctor-patient relationship be fixed?

It’s an important question when you consider how unhappy patients are with their doctors today. For example: Go online, and you’ll find thousands of complaints about doctors who never look up from their computers during exams, who make errors in prescriptions, or who never even ask patients what’s bothering them!

Also, a new study found that during an average 15 minute check-up, doctors only spend one minute giving crucial information about a patient’s health and treatment. And most of the information is so technical, that half of all patients report leaving their doctor’s office with no idea what they’re supposed to do! Given all that, it’s no wonder that patient satisfaction with their health care is at an all-time low.

But is this problem fixable? Actually, many experts say “yes,” and the solution boils down to communication. Because new research shows a direct link between how well doctors and patients communicate, and how healthy patients feel. In fact, get this: Patients who report the most communication with their doctors tend to have the fewest symptoms of disease!

That’s why experts say that if your doctor won’t listen to you, constantly interrupts you, or can’t explain options and treatments in a way that makes sense to you, then you need to find a new doctor.

The good news is that medical schools are helping the doctor-patient relationship, by changing the way they recruit new students. For example: A growing number of schools are testing students for their “people skills,” instead of just their medical knowledge, because experts say students who ace all the medical tests don’t necessarily make great doctors who can communicate.