“Doctor and patient are partners.
Well-informed patient will not try
to undermine your diagnosis.”
- Priest Jan Kaczkowski.
According to Zsuzsanna Jakab, Director of the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe, the role of patient in the modern healthcare model has increased in prominence. Patients are experts with invaluable therapeutic experiences and their participation in the decision process is crucial.
Denmark, Switzerland and Great Britain are now promoting patient empowerment in health care, an approach endorsed by the WHO. This concept introduces a fundamental change to the doctor-patient relationship. It encourages an active engagement of patients in the treatment decision making process, which is especially important for patients suffering from chronic conditions. The implementation of the Patient Empowerment concept requires that patients have an easy access to information and educational resources on patient rights, available treatment methods and processes. It is also essential that all health professionals are proficient in interpersonal communication and that patients know how to interact with the health system and its representatives.
The Patient Empowerment idea is supported by the partnership model of patient-physician communication, currently promoted all over the world, which focuses on increasing patient involvement in the prevention and treatment processes. The partnership is functional when the patient knows how to interact with the health system and the physician is skilled in the process of effective interpersonal communication.
DOCTOR AS LEADER
"Patients are active people. They can,
if supported according to their individual capabilities,
make a difference to their health and well-being,
as well as to the sustainability of healthcare systems."
- Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health
Leadership is an art of persuading others to work towards a common goal, which in the case of a doctor-patient relationship is the effective treatment plan and improved health of the patient. Physician’s personality is one of the key factors influencing the quality of communication with patients. Health is a project managed by the patient, whose support team includes family, friends and nurses. The physician is the leader, however.
In the partnership model of the physician-patient relationships, leadership is a skill that requires excellent observation skills. An excellent leader knows when it is appropriate to lead the group and when to support the leadership of others.
Effective leaders know that you first have to touch people's hearts before you ask them for a hand. This is the Law of Connection. According to one of the basic rules of effective communication, in order to motivate people to take action, we first need to affect their emotions. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S. during the Persian Gulf War, met many competent leaders in his career, who when standing in front of a platoon only saw the platoon. According to him, in that situation great leaders should not see the platoon but 44 individuals, each of whom has their own ambitions and plans. Each of whom wants to live. Therefore, the aforementioned Law of Connection shapes exceptional leaders. How can we relate that to a case of an overworked doctor? Statistically, in Poland there is one physician for every 1,700 patients. That is quite a large division that needs to be led during their fight with disease. To be able to notice the individuals in that large number, the physician needs to make good use of the consultation time and employ his effective communication skills.