A “Difficult” Encounter Leads To Worse Outcomes

An interesting study looks at the percentage of “difficult” patients with some reflection on the physician also.  The study showed a few interesting things:

  • 18% of patients were considered difficult
  • Older physicians and those with better communication skills don’t have as many “difficult” patients
  • Difficult patients were 2.4x more likely to have worse symptoms two weeks after their visit

So…what is a “difficult” patient.  The article describes them as patients who have lots of unexplained physicial symptoms, stress, anxiety, and other complicating factors.

I think this reinforces a lot of what I talk about.  You have to go back to the root of the problem (e.g., adherence) – the patient and physician encounter.  We have to make this better.  Patients have to understand how to leverage their physician.  Physicians need to better understand their patient’s and how to engage them.

Once that infrastructure exists, a lot of things can play out after the fact.

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