Evolving Healthcare Trends Downplay Personal Relationships

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Patient Tiffani Joyner and Anthony Terracina, MD

Economic trends are changing how healthcare views doctor-patient relationships.

According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there’s a new vocabulary being used in healthcare, one in which physicians are “providers” and patients are “customers” or “consumers.” Experts speculate that the changing titles may be due to the uncertain financial times, in which efforts to reform care are focused on controlling wild costs. The focus on “standardizing” care also contributes to the idea that hospitals should be organized more like businesses or factories, with the old-fashioned terminology, words like “doctor” and “nurse” changed to “provider” to streamline identification.

Of course, these new titles are raising some concerns among the healthcare community. Words are powerful and can establish expectations for treatment and relationships. By using language that reduces a patient-physician relationship to an exchange of money, we may be losing a critical element of medical care – the focus on treating patients who are sick.

Not every provider is the same and neither is every patient.

That’s why at Bon Secours, our physicians are more than “providers.” We believe that the spiritual, psychological, and personal dimensions of a doctor’s relationship with his or her patient are too precious to be readily dismissed. Every member of our medical group is focused on providing exceptional, personalized care to each and every one of their patients.

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Source: NEJM: Shift from ‘patient’ to ‘consumer’ undermines medicine

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