One word that characterizes modern medicine is "rushed." Are the forces shaping modern medicine too many and too powerful to change the direction of our current path toward increasingly time-pressured, impersonal care?
Can we save time-consuming high-quality, compassionate care. Can we save time?
Yes. History is replete with stories of visionary people fighting culture, superstition, politicians and clinicians who have strayed from their noble calling. Looking to the future, progress in patient care while preserving compassion can—and must—prevail.
Clinicians can play a pivotal role by applying their ingenuity to
- improve EMR (electronic medical records) and other communication aids among colleagues
- engage smart-phone apps, video teaching aids and physician extenders to facilitate the history-taking and patient education that precedes shared decision-making
- educate physicians-in-training, policymakers and the public about the time required to take a proper history and discuss options—measures that avoid futile tests and treatments
- make it common knowledge that in some cases subclinical disease needs time to declare itself, side effects need time to abate, medicines need time to kick in, and the body simply needs time to heal.
Researchers can play a role through studies that provide proof that effective communication and clinical judgment based on clinicians’ personal knowledge of individual patients lead to cost-efficient care.
Next: The public's role in saving time.