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© Source: Anke Sommer
Der Dialog zwischen Arzt und Patient: Wer das eigene Image verändern will, sollte die andere Seite einnehmen und verstehen lernen.

Doctors and patients in dialogue

The time when doctors and dentists were automatically highly respected and had a positive image is increasingly a thing of the past. This affects the relationship between doctor and patient. The patients’ tone of voice is changing, even becoming rude and abrupt. The doctor’s advice is more easily doubted; patients consult internet forums to find out what action can be taken in view of the doctors’ diagnoses; trust in doctors’ pronouncements is dwindling. All this is attributed to a development that has already been taking place for years. Despite the fact that doctors are still placed in the upper ranks of surveys about the reputation of various professions, doctors themselves feel that the loss of reputation is serious.

Both doctors and patients have a problem: both sides want to be understood

Pain can bring people to the limits of good sense. Serious illnesses, unclear diagnoses and the uncertainty they cause threaten the security of everyone who experiences them. Insecurity alters people’s behaviour. Clarity is replaced by lack of orientation; a normally very mature person may temporarily become someone quite different.

All of this calls for security, a firm hold on life and calm clarity. To give a patient these factors requires a framework that is often not present in the context of today’s medical practice. Many patients feel that they’re just being processed, abused as a small cog in a huge pharmaceutical industry. Where the truthful words between medical expert and patient used to be, now all too often there is no more than a quick summary followed by the prescription. Patients often feel they are treated as immature and given little respect. All these aspects are not good for the doctor-patient relationship. Then there’s the excessive use of specialist jargon that is incomprehensible to the non-expert. All in all, these factors promote a divide between doctor and patient.

If you want to change your image you should adopt the other side’s viewpoint and learn to understand it

As a consultant who works with both sides, I know that there is a lack of dialogue, of understanding on both sides. This should be an understanding between equals, simply looking at what both sides need in order to get along well with each other. And that is precisely what the premise for a mature doctor-patient relationship should be; that is the basis for effective communication. Both sides need an increase of trust.

Doctors need to be trusted that they are doing the best they can for the patient at that moment. Patients should be trusted as having maturity and taking responsibility for their own health. Both sides need to understand that the person they are dealing with probably doesn’t have much time; both sides have an issue with pressure and a person in need can’t cope with hectic activity when instead they need security and safety. A sick person can quickly get into a situation of need and both sides meet in the illness, because doctors aren’t immune to illness either.

The seminar on this topic

This talk in the form of a seminar shows how a negative development can become an opportunity that leads to a mature doctor-patient relationship.

Content of the workshop:

• What caused the loss of respect? Is it possible to influence the system behind it?

• Identifying and solving the loss of respect

• Rhetoric/ communication tips / finding a clever reaction to the development

• Rethinking. Shaping change processes to image building that supports the practice

• Finding your own definition of a mature doctor/dentist-patient relationship

• Building mature communication between patients and doctors

• Why it’s a good thing if the doctor/dentist makes the first move.

Private five-minute coaching sessions take place after the talk. These give participants who have ‘only’ listened the opportunity to express their individual topic, and is a chance for those who only want to express their concern in a private conversation.

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