Communication in Healthcare between Doctor and Patient
"The power of the spoke word"
By: Victor E Battles, M.D. | Oct. 7, 2013:
Doctor/patient communication in healthcare is the exchange of information between the two parties
for evaluating a patient's health, diagnosing a health condition(s) and treating a health condition(s).
The communication is bidirectional in that information is exchanged from doctor to patient and from patient to
The communication can be direct or
, depending upon the health literacy, cognitive state and communicative capacity of the
The communication in healthcare that occurs from doctor to patient includes the exchange of
information regarding test results, a recent diagnosis or diagnoses, prognosis and treatment
instructions. Patient education to increase a patient's understanding of test
results, a diagnosis or diagnoses, factors determining prognosis and treatment options is also a part of
communication in healthcare between doctor and patient.
Communication in healthcare that flows verbally from patient to doctor is the subjective information which a
patient provides in order to enable the doctor to perform an adequate health evaluation, make a diagnosis and/or
provide appropriate treatment. Subjective information differs from objective information
in that it is what the patient feels or perceives with the senses, as opposed to what can be
observed or measured. Subjective information consists of symptoms and their relationship to time and factors that
bring them on, make them worse, or make them better. Subjective information also includes a description of the
symptomatology in relationship to time in terms of onset, duration and changes in severity or relationship to other
measurable variables such as physical activity, weight gain or weather conditions.
Objective information is that which is observed and/or measured
by a physician. It is obtained by means of a physical examination or diagnostic testing. Although it is not verbal
communication in healthcare from patient to doctor, it is a form of communication in that it is what the
patient's body tells the doctor. This nonverbal patient to doctor communication, in turn has a considerable impact
on subsequent doctor to patient communication.
An indirect form of communication in healthcare is that
between a doctor and a patient proxy because of the inability of the patient to effectively participate in the
communication process. Insufficient health literacy is a common cause of the need for proxy communication in
healthcare. Other reasons include cognitive deficits related to conditions such as dementia or mental illness,
deafness, blindness and muteness.
Patient education is becoming an increasingly important component of communication in healthcare because of
the changing healthcare climate which emphasizes patient engagement or getting patients more involved in their
healthcare. The patient-education-information exchange can be between doctor and patient or between
doctor's staff and patient. It can be verbal, written, or a combination of the two. With the increasing doctor
shortage and the diminishing amount of time doctors can spend with patients, online information provided by a
healthcare professional is an effective alternative form of communication which can achieve positive results of
increasing health literacy and promoting quality improvement in healthcare.
This article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with
a qualified professional. If you are unsure about your medical condition you should consult a healthcare
Source: Proactive Health Outlet
Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient
contact. Dr. Battles has been a principal investigator in several clinical research trials and is the
founder of Proactive Health Outlet
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