Physicians Can Protect the Human Connection in Medicine
We often examine strategies for prioritizing physician time at the patient bedside, using anything from medical school curriculum to technology capable of transcribing health records. In an episode of Medscape’s “Medicine and the Machine,” Stanford Medicine 25’s Abraham Verghese and Deep Medicine author Eric Topol offer a new solution explaining that at a time when medical appointments are characterized by technology, screens, and electronic health records (EHRs), doctors must come together as advocates for the human connection in medicine. Verghese says that although every provider role, hospital, and health system is different, organizing behind “a unified voice around the best values of being a physician” would leave the field with little choice but to refocus medicine back to the patient.
During the conversation, Topol reinforces the notion, noting that the human element of medicine is currently compromised because physicians are not allowed adequate time with their patients. The goal, he says, is to return to the “better state of real medicine” in which the patient-provider relationship is the “the principal objective.” Topol discusses strategic use of artificial intelligence as a tool for alleviating some administrative burden on doctors but, as agreed upon by the two podcast hosts, the system will only improve if physicians organize as a united entity working to protect their relationships with patients.
Humility is an underappreciated skill in a time of global budgets, evidenced based approaches, and cost-containment. The bright, well-read, talented medical students who may lack humility are not uncommon.
Patient-centered care is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement on Health Care. As such, healthcare institutions are strongly focusing on the patient-physician relationship and the patient experience.
The editor-in-chief of Medscape, Dr. Eric Topol, visited Stanford to sit down and do an interview with our Dr. Vergese for the Medscape One-on-One online video series.
Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University, spoke of the rise and fall of the medical authority in the doctor patient office encounter in his many scholarly articles. With the internet becoming the “elephant in the doctor’s office,” the dynamic of medical authority has certainly changed…