The Future of the Physician-Patient Dialogue

Physicians used to be the sole source of medical information for their patients.  However, today, patients are increasingly searching the internet first for health information. Even though smartphones, tablets and other digital devices have made it possible to research conditions online, most patients still revere their healthcare providers.  What is changing is the dynamic of the physician-patient relationship.  Now, the patient and physician operate as a team.  Patients want to be informed of their options and take a more proactive role in treatment decisions with their provider, and providers want to provide quality care and build trust with their patients.

But  communication between the patient and their physician has always been and continues to be complex.  Discussing a tough diagnosis with a patient can be uncomfortable for the physician and it is still an intimidating scenario for a patient to question or raise concerns to their doctor about their therapy.  No patient wants to admit they aren’t doing well or that they aren’t doing everything possible to improve their condition.   Patients still believe “if my doctor didn’t recommend a new therapy, then there must not be anything out there for me."  But it may be that the conversation about new therapies isn’t happening because the doctor doesn’t know that the patient is willing to consider something new.

Adding to the complexity, physicians today are pressured to see more patients in a day and expected to chart while in the exam room with a patient.  As a result, the provider may come across as aloof to their patients.   However, healthcare technology companies are developing new tools to help healthcare professionals better manage their administrative responsibilities.  Innovative use of artificial intelligence tools will help doctors find information more quickly.  With more efficient practice tools, the healthcare professional of the future will be able to spend more time with patients and less time on diagnostic and administrative tasks.

Pharmaceutical marketers have always supported the relationship between healthcare providers and patients by delivering credible health information in a relevant, authentic patient voice.   Technology will help foster better engagement between healthcare providers and their patients both inside and outside the exam room.

Some of the most promising developments are:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will expand opportunities to enhance doctor-patient relationships outside of the exam room through wearable medical devices, patient engagement apps, and care coordination tools, including 24/7 patient monitoring.
  • Digital assistants, chatbots, and other digital tools will make it easier for patients to manage treatment regimens and report their progress to their healthcare provider.
  • Digital health coaching will provide personalized interventions at just the right time, help patients set achievable goals, track their progress and celebrate their successes.
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will help healthcare professionals empathize with their patients and better understand the day-to-day challenges of living with a chronic disease.

At Luckie, we have developed valuable insight into the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients and used these insights to find innovative solutions to bridge the communication gap between physicians and patients.  It is exciting to imagine how technological advances in the healthcare space will help remove communication barriers between patients and healthcare professionals.

Kamala Prince