February 19, 2015
A recent article published in JAMA Oncology supports the premise from The Institute of Medicine that patient-clinician shared decision making towards improves quality of care.1 The study enrolled over 5,000 patient-clinician encounters involving 3,624 patient and 60 clinicians. A relatively small percentage of the encounters (8.7%) included a patient demand or request for a medical intervention. Interestingly, clinicians deemed the majority of these patient demand-requests to be clinically appropriate. Furthermore, these lung and colorectal oncology patients felt more involved in their own treatment decisions and were more satisfied with the quality of care they received and the communication with their physicians.
What is the application of this study to the practicing pharmacist? First, we need to understand the changing demographics of our patient population. The number of patients who want practitioners to make ALL the decisions for their healthcare is becoming smaller in number. Here to stay are the medically savvy patients who have spent time researching on the Internet, interacting on social media sites, or just talking to friends in order to understand their disease state and treatment options. These patients want to engage the provider. They want the clinician to provide them with guidance at a depth and pace they can understand. They want the information presented in an empathetic way, with their own individuality considered, and in a humane way. Patients want and need pharmacists’ knowledge, skills, and empathy to be part of their healthcare experience; it is becoming a must in today’s healthcare environment.
Pharmacists practicing in direct patient care areas need to understand that patients want an interaction that only we can provide. Whether it is at the hospital bedside, the clinic interaction, or in the pharmacy, the contemporary patient wants to be engaged in a constructive individualized conversation about their healthcare. If we make patient engagement a fundamental guidepost, the profession of pharmacy will become less isolated, be seen more favorably by the medical-nursing professions and patients, and will realize its full potential in an ever-increasing interprofessional team-oriented delivery system. Consistent patient engagement will bring greater professional autonomy and satisfaction. Let’s get communicating!
Mark A. Munger, PharmD, FCCP, FACC, is a Professor of Pharmacotherapy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine, at the University of Utah, where he also serves as the Associate Dean, Academic Affairs for the College of Pharmacy.
1. Gogineni K, Shuman KL, Chinn D, Gabler NB, Emanuel EJ. Patient demands and request for cancer tests and treatments. JAMA Oncol. 2015 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print]