The influence of Doctor-patient relationship and communication on patient’s compliance.

The influence of Doctor-patient relationship and communication on patient’s compliance.


            Doctor Patient confidentiality is founded on the belief that a person should not be worried about pursuing medical treatment for the fear that their condition shall be revealed to others. The idea behind this confidential relationship is to make patients that seek treatment comfortable enough to disclose information that might be helpful towards their treatment and recovery. Healthcare basically begins with a communication relationship between a doctor and a patient. The communication determines how diagnosis is made, compliance accomplished, medical data gathering and patient support is provided. Over the past decade, the shifting patterns within societies, advances in the medical sector as well as access to medical information that has revolutionized doctor patient relationship.

            In the past, doctors were deemed as the repository of all medical knowledge and this was adopted for patient management. In the current environment, a lot of things have changed, medical knowledge has become a point of interaction between the doctor and patient treatment. Nevertheless, doctor-patient relationship gives rise to contemporary medical ethical obligations on the side of the doctor to hold the patient welfare above their own personal interests. This requires the doctor to ethically use sound judgment in some cases to ensure the interests of the patient are handled as best as possible. As much as the patient needs to trust the doctor, the doctor must also communicate and act in a manner that earns him or her such trust. This essay focuses on the influence of Doctor-patient relationship and communication on patient’s compliance.

Doctor-patient relationship communication and patient compliance

            This is a crucial area for me as I have personally been affected. Every patient hopes for quality treatment from a medical facility every time, they are taken ill, go for medical check-up or just for consultation. Often we do not have the finances and time to seek for the service levels that we expect. In previous decades and even now in some countries, things were handled a bit differently in healthcare systems. Systems were manual, there were long queues and doctors along with medical personnel were few. In some areas, people relied on traditional medicine and sometimes religion to get healed. Nevertheless, the healthcare systems today are characterized by professionalism, research and technology. Illnesses require effective communication between the doctor and the patient. In the past, doctors had little time and willingness to spend time with a patient to establish a relationship, consequently, patients were not satisfied with the services or treatment given to them.  

            Technology and communication infrastructure has led to tremendous changes on healthcare systems. With technology especially the internet and now artificial intelligence, managed care has been simplified and standardized. The amount of helpful information around healthcare is enormous with doctors now offering consultancy services online.  With such a plethora of available helpful information as well as the willingness of Doctors and medical services practitioners to institute change on patient’s handling, there has been a change on the perception of doctors more so, our relationships with doctors.

            Over the years, the medical profession was perceived as some sort of exclusive club for medical practitioners. It was left out to the doctor to carry out tests and come up with diagnosis without engaging the person who is sick. Furthermore, we didn’t imagine that they could be wrong sometimes, with very few patients having the courage to question their diagnosis, advice or prescriptions. However, things have changed over time with Doctors also being taught people skills as well as technology and the internet, which somehow allows patients to explain how they are feeling to the doctor and receive basic diagnosis from artificial intelligence based online doctors. Such changes, have immensely contributed to the improvement of the quality of healthcare, accessibility to doctors even beyond working hours and beyond geographical boundaries.

            Some studies have shown that the introduction of internet-based healthcare and information to patients, has somehow positively affected patient-knowledge, doctor-patient relationship and compliance. Information technology professionals have also come in to partner with doctors in developing basic diagnosis systems and possibly referring customers to specific professionals. We now have mobile applications and websites, which guide users in entering their symptoms based on their feelings then giving them basic diagnosis as well as referring them to doctors within the same platforms.

            Doctor-patient relationships show considerable relevance in healthcare outcomes, hence doctor-patient communication is a major factor in the health care system. Thomas et al, assert that doctor patient communication impacts on how a patient response to treatments as well as the quality of diagnosis. Good quality doctor-patient communication contributes to significantly improving the quality of healthcare to patients, with communication deemed as a key element in health literacy.

            As I explore doctor-patient communication, I realize that even mobile phones have also contributed immensely to enhancing doctor-patient relationships, I have been able to receive medical advice through Email while in Africa from a Doctor in America. Such changes have incredibly changed the decision making process of the patient as well as the doctor. In hospitals with integrated hospital management systems, the doctor-patient communication is further improved. The doctor can able to view patient background historical information from a computer screen and perhaps know how best to engage the patient. There is also the aspect of feedback on the doctor’s side where customers get to rate doctors based on service delivery, based on the rating score a doctor can then get to improve on areas of weakness.

Patient compliance

            Ideally, treatment impact is dependent upon whether the treatment prescribed by the doctor is the appropriate one and if patients finally comply with the prescribed treatment (Laugesen et al.,2015). From the fact that we have little control over the extent of professionalism of doctors, we are forced to be careful on patient compliance to enhance curative factors. Patient compliance measures the degree to which patients adhere to the diagnosis and treatment offered by doctors and other medical practitioners, including taking drugs as prescribed and maintaining a specific health lifestyle. Patient compliance thus plays a major role in doctor-patient compliance as well as healthcare systems, particularly from chronic diseases perspective, where full recovery relies on patient’s commitment.

            Where medical diagnosis and prescription treatments are adequate, treatments could be effective if patients communicate better with doctors and follow doctors’ advice. Given that doctor-patient communication enhances compliance, there is a highly likelihood of a health society. From my own personal perspective, I have been treated by doctors who have utmost concern for full recovery and establish good relationships with me, that I would feel guilty if I were to let them down by not following their prescriptions. I have seen patients literally lineup at a doctor’s door while other doctors advertise themselves on media in a bid to attract even a few patients. Patients want doctors they can trust and relate to in addition to professionalism.

Gone are the days when family members could be used to persuade patients to disclose certain information that would potentially help in their recovery, even young children nowadays have learnt to create relationships with their doctors, in some cases relationships that are deeper than what they have with their parents. Good doctor-patient relationships are the desired consequence of treatments. With good communication and relationships, patients are much more likely to agree with their doctors, hence complying with their prescriptions. As a society, all stakeholders need to consistently built good relationships not only with doctors but all medical practitioners in order to improve our chances of correct diagnosis and potentially recovery.

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