Dr. McAteer welcomes suggestions from physicians, IMS Members and non-members.Simply click on the suggestion box icon and “Let Us Hear from YOU!” President's Message
For me, one of the most satisfying things about being a doctor is developing quality relationships with my patients. I love getting to know my patient and their family, helping them by using the science of medicine to formulate solutions to their questions and problems. In the current storm of health care debate and changes, we need to include our patients’ voices to ours to maintain the good things about practicing medicine.
As a general pediatrician, my relationship with my patient is first dependent upon a relationship with parents. Let me tell you about baby Emma, an otherwise healthy child who screamed non-stop during every well baby visit. As a toddler, she began crying when her parent’s car turned into the parking lot. She ratcheted up to all out shrieking when they entered the office. Emma did not stop until the appointment was long over. Her mom let me know that little Emma would play Doctor Mary at home, wearing her toy stethoscope around her neck like I do, addressing her “patients” with a touch that gave away how much she had observed during her exams with me. Eventually, Emma grew out of this behavior and the nature of her visits changed. As she grew older, Emma assumed more of an active role, aided by support from her parents, and eventually came to appointments by herself. Our rocky start developed into a long relationship that continued through her graduate school years. We benefited from the grace of her family, giving us plenty of chances to grow together into a rewarding relationship.
This is just one example of how important it is to create and maintain meaningful relationships. One way to advocate for our relationships is to explore adopting the medical home model for practicing medicine. Holistically serving patients is its primary goal. With the patient/physician relationship at its center, health care is approached as a team. Studies have shown that care within a medical home results in better outcomes, higher patient and provider satisfaction, and more cost-effective care. Many different stakeholders are looking at developing the medical home model to achieve these results. But the feeling that forcing doctors to function in teams may detract from the ability to work within our all-important meaningful relationship will need monitoring. It is important to involve patients and physicians in the design of the structure and processes needed to serve them best.
Let us add our voices, invite our patients to share their stories, to maintain our great relationships. I invite you to share with me a vignette from your personal experience about the patient/physician relationship or your efforts to practice within a medical home.