Consider purposeful steps physicians can take to gain patient trust, reduce bias
ORLANDO, Fla. — A presenter here at Hospital Medicine 2018 encouraged attendees to be aware of their subconscious bias and to connect with people beyond the context of the doctor-patient relationship.
“One of the things we can do is build trust in our patients. The burden is on us,” Cameron Page, MD, said during his presentation. “Everyday when we work with our vulnerable populations, we just have to put a little extra effort and try and make things right by those who must need it.”
Page suggested that physicians incorporate a thought experiment when making decisions regarding an individual patient who is a different race or ethnicity than him or her.
“Think ‘would I do anything differently?’” he asked. “If a little voice in your head is saying ‘maybe I would do something differently’ then maybe you need to go back and revisit.”
“When talking about building trust between doctors and patients, often we, as doctors, instinctively talk about our comments that reflect our knowledge about the health care, and in turn are saying ‘trust me because I know what I am talking about and I went to school,’” Page said. “But it isn’t about our comments. Patients want to know that we care about them.”
While challenging in the hospital setting, Page noted that many hospitalists see patients regularly, as the hospitalist is their primary care doctor for a variety of reasons, and trust can be built over time.
“I would recommend finding a way to talk about something that is disconnected from medicine,” he said, and related his personal experience of talking about professional baseball to bond.
“Every time that you find an opportunity to connect ... it is a way to say ‘hey, I don’t just care about you as a patient. I also care about you as a person,’” he said.
He often puts within the medical notes a personal fact about a patient and then discusses that fact at the next visit.
“I don’t need to lecture you on how to build rapport with vulnerable populations,” he said. “The point I really want to make is that we should be more intentional about it with members of the vulnerable population. It is easy to do it when you instinctively feel a connection with a patient, but that’s actually not the time when it is most necessary.”
“The times when [building rapport] is necessary between a doctor and a patient is when you don’t feel a connection to them. When you feel like they come from a different background than you and there is a distance. That is when you need to make an extra effort to build that rapport, to find a personal connection and build trust.” – by Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS
Page C. Vulnerable populations and hospitalists. Presented at: Hospital Medicine 2018. April 9-11, 2018; Orlando, Fla.
Disclosure: Page reports no relevant financial disclosures.