Beyond standard healthcare branding

Is patient-centricity really having an impact at the point of care?

August 23, 2018


Patient-centricity is the buzzword that permeates the healthcare landscape right now. And rightly so.

I mean, what is healthcare without the patient?!

It is obvious that listening and learning from the patient perspective is important. Patients should be engaged so we can optimize their care and enhance their experience.

In my opinion, patient-centricity is the key that will address the big healthcare challenges that we currently face. Already, it is the driving force for the increased use of electronic health records and telemedicine. It’s amplifying a heightened awareness for measuring patient-reported outcomes in clinical trials.

As you’ll notice, these innovations all occur at the macro level.

The question I personally have is: What about patient-centricity at the micro level?

Healthcare starts at the point of care right? The patient-doctor relationship is the centerpiece.

Based on a recent study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the results suggest patients are not being heard. To reach these conclusions, researchers performed an analysis of previously recorded clinical encounters across different clinical settings.

What the researchers found was that:

Doctors elicited the patient agenda (i.e., what the patient wanted to discuss) in 36% of clinical encounters

    • 49% were elicited in primary care
    • 20% were elicited in specialty care
  • When patients were able to communicate their agenda, they were interrupted 67% of the time by the doctor
  • The average (median) time to interruption was 11 seconds
  • Interruptions occurred in 63% and 80% of encounters in primary and specialty care, respectively


Patients are not heard in nearly 2 out of 3 encounters (primary and specialty care combined), and even when patients are able to talk about their needs, they are quickly interrupted. The results indicate that patients are heard less in specialty care vs primary care. I always assumed that specialists would take more time and effort to engage with their patients.

This raises another question: Shouldn’t doctors try to understand their patients’ concerns to deliver optimal care?

Seems rhetorical, right? The data suggest otherwise.

As healthcare marketers, we know 11 seconds is not enough time to even hear the risk information discussed in a TV ad. How is this acceptable for patient-doctor communications?

I would suggest patient-centricity and its innovations are for naught if the core unit is dysfunctional.

Certainly part of the problem lies in the trade-off to deal with insurance and reimbursement issues, crucial areas of the practice not directly involved with patient care. Another part of the problem could be the way doctors were trained on their bedside manner.

Regardless of the issues, the current state of patient-doctor conversations can change if we apply a more patient-centric approach.

With a challenge there is opportunity: How to apply patient-centricity

We, as healthcare marketers, can help evolve the dynamic to be more patient-centric.

We can go beyond the basic doctor discussion guide. The solutions should take into account helping patients advocate for their needs. Some ways to do that include:

  • Video series to help patients prepare for and talk to their doctor, and it could even involve role-playing
  • Patient portals that allow patients to talk to their doctors after hours and learn about treatments
  • Chatbots to address common patient concerns, thus enabling a deeper conversation in-office


These are just a few examples of what can be done. At precisioneffect, we’re working with clients every day to go beyond the pill to enhance the patient-doctor experience and drive better outcomes.

What ideas do you have to help the doctor-patient relationship?

Feel free to comment below or engage with us on ideas you think are important.