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Practice Management: New Challenges and Proven Strategies for Optimal Surgeon-patient Communication

Mon, February 22, 2021 10:55 AM | Babette Atkins (Administrator)

NYSSOS is proud to share this article from Ariana Lott, MD a resident at NYU Langone! She partnered with Drs. Weiss, Baker and Kim to explore the need for formal training on communication with patients.

Patient-physician communication skills have always been important for orthopaedic surgeons in providing patient-centered care. Although communication is important, orthopaedic surgeons have little formal training on how to communicate with patients. Compared to the countless hours dedicated to surgical training, there is little direct observation of orthopaedic resident and fellow communication skills. This lack of training is demonstrated in the literature, as orthopaedic surgeons ranked last out of 28 specialties with respect to patient-reported communication skills.

Studies have demonstrated that with improved communication, there is higher patient satisfaction, increased compliance with proposed treatments, and overall improved outcomes. In an analysis in the outpatient setting, physician empathy was found to be the strongest driver of patient satisfaction. Communication skills are particularly important for surgeons because establishing trust with patients presenting for surgical evaluation is essential. For true shared decision making, it is imperative that surgeons are able to communicate clearly so patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options for their specific medical conditions. Improved communication and trust also correlate with decreased medical-legal liability.

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