How to Give Your Patients a Better 10 Minutes

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“He only has a certain amount of time with you … But he says, ‘How are you doing?’ and he’s typing. He only hears me sorta-kinda.” Patient, Chicago

Is there a way to better connect with patients, even with the compressed time constraints that plague clinicians today?

A national survey of healthcare providers and patients living with type 2 diabetes suggests that the answer is a definite “yes,” citing specific language used by clinicians that leaves patients not just feeling better about visits with their doctors, but actually doing better in actively managing their disease.

First The Bad News

When it comes to how well patients think they’re doing in the self-management of their disease and what their doctors think, it appears the two groups are on different planets. [SEE CHART 1]

Now the good news

An analysis of the data revealed what doesn’t work with patients, as well as what does, including specific messages and optimal language that can help clinicians improve their influence on how people with type 2 diabetes manage their disease.

I predict that the “dialogue starter” tools found effective with patients in managing their type 2 diabetes — a complex disease that requires active self-management by a patient that may not even feel sick or any different from the way he or she felt before being diagnosed with diabetes — will also be found effective in helping healthcare providers encourage better self-care for many illnesses, injuries, and conditions.

The findings in the study resonate with what I’ve learned as a psychologist, as a marketing executive, and as a corporate trainer specializing in interpersonal communication skills. [SEE CHART 2]

The Shift From Providing Information To Forming A Partnership

The study identified specific language that signals to patients an attitude of partnership in their care and was found to resonate both with practitioners and patients:

ENCOURAGING GOAL SETTING:

“Our long-term goal is to get and keep your diabetes under control so that you can feel better more often and avoid complications. But that’s not going to happen overnight. Let’s talk about some first steps you can take that will get you moving in the right direction.”

LISTENING AND USING SIMPLE LANGUAGE:

“My job is to help you understand what’s happening to your body and what gradual changes you can make to feel better more often. Tell me what you’re having the hardest time with.”

FOCUSING ON THE POSITIVE:

“One of the keys to living with diabetes is to understand that you CAN live well with it; you CAN manage it. Let’s talk about what’s been giving you the hardest time and see what changes you can make so things are a little easier for you.”

INCORPORATING TREATMENT INTO ROUTINES:

“I know diabetes can make life very difficult. It is a complicated disease that affects almost everything you do. Eventually, though, managing your diabetes will become something that’s part of your daily routine. It won’t feel like something you have to work as hard at. Tell me how it’s affecting your day-to-day life right now.”

MANAGING UPS AND DOWNS:

“Sticking to a treatment plan isn’t easy, but it’s important if you want to smooth out the ups and downs. Which parts of your treatment plan are the most challenging for you? Let’s talk about how we can make it work for you.”

For a complete overview of the study, go to www.ConnecT2Day Diabetes.com.