Dr Allan Gibofsky on How Physicians Can Respond to Patients' Communication Needs

On both sides of the patient-physician relationship, there are opportunities for improvement in communication and listening. In particular, healthcare providers must recognize patients’ capabilities and adjust their own communication styles appropriately, according to Allan Gibofsky, MD, professor of medicine and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and an attending rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery.
Published Online: April 20, 2017


On both sides of the patient-physician relationship, there are opportunities for improvement in communication and listening. In particular, healthcare providers must recognize patients’ capabilities and adjust their own communication styles appropriately, according to Allan Gibofsky, MD, professor of medicine and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and an attending rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Transcript (slightly modified)
How does the communication gap between patients and physicians impact patient care?
Unfortunately, when there is a communication gap, it will always adversely impact the physician-patient relationship to some extent. Many times physicians are not as specific in what they want done, assuming that the patients will understand from a general description. Many times patients are reluctant to ask the necessary questions about what to do. We can all be better listeners, including our patients, and we can all be better discussants of patient care problems.

Sadly, we often use language in talking to patients that we use in talking to colleagues, and that language is different. We tend to forget that our level of expectation, our level of training, our level of education, may not be the same as the patient’s. We often forget that there are language difficulties, if one speaks to an individual for whom English is not their native language, well, they may be a Nobel laureate but they still may have difficulty understanding the language that the physician is communicating in.

Consequently, it’s necessary for all physicians, all healthcare providers, to recognize patients’ needs in terms of communication requirements.


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