Owner, Self-employed at Garza Medical Association
Round Rock, Texas
i've been a family physician for 20 years.
i've worked in a multitude of settings. but i'm going to answer this as someone who has spent the majority of his professional life seeing primary care patients in the outpatient setting.
i strongly believe that adaptability is the answer to your question. because different patients need different qualities from their doctor. and a better doctor-patient relationship leads to better outcomes.
some patients want the doctor to make decisions for them. others want to discuss every potential option. some want a doctor who remembers and asks about their family. others want a doctor who comments on the latest medical journal articles.
some want a doctor to sit and listen to them. others want a doctor to lay hands on them every visit. some want a doctor who is nonjudgmental. others like hearing a doctor espouse their opinions. some want a doctor who does office procedures. others want to a specialist referral for every condition. etc, etc.
so for every patient encounter i'm always trying to figure out what type of doctor that patient wants. then if possible i become that doctor for them.
therefore, i may be laid-back with one patient, academic with another, compassionate with the next, etc, etc. in effect, i adapt my style to the patient.
back in the old days of paper charting i used to write on the charts a few notes about that patient. for instance, "loves dogs", "pictures of grandkids", "plays golf", "don't talk to husband", "likes short visits", "likes herbal meds", "won't go to specialists", etc.. that way i could recall a bit about their preferences before each visit and adapt my style accordingly.
many times i've spoken with a specialist to alert them about the peculiarities of a patient i was sending to them. unfortunately, a lot of specialists are unwilling to change their style for a particular patient. so i've heard a lot of negative feedback from patients about specialist visits over the years.
many of the older primary doctors are similarly rigid in their styles. over a long period of time they tend to retain only the patients who like that style. other patients drift away to find someone more to their liking.
i'd like to make one more comment that doesn't exactly bear on your question but is an example of a physician characteristic that, sadly, patients don't make a decision based on.
my first job out of residency was at a clinic between two cities. when i needed to send a patient to the hospital i'd send them to city A about 20 minutes away where my inpatient group was. however, most of my patients lived closer to city B.
one of my regular patients was frequently in the hospital and i'd see him afterwards. but one time i saw him he said that the ambulance had taken him to city B rather than city A. furthermore, he said he would never again go willingly to "my" hospital.
i told him that i knew that "my" hospital and inpatient doctors were excellent. so what was so much better at the other hospital, i asked? his reply: "the toilet paper" and "the food."
the moral is that patients rarely have any idea about the quality of doctors or medical services. they choose based on things they do understand. in this case, comfort issues.
Last updated Dec 05 '17 at 08:58