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Do we need a Dr-Patient ‘culture shift’?

Posted on 22nd September 2016 by

I read with interest this week about a new scheme in Wales where patients are being urged to take more control of decisions about the care and treatments they receive. The scheme, Choosing Wales Wisely, aims for a more equal doctor-patient relationship.

Central to the scheme, are 4 questions that patients should ask when seeing their Dr.

Questions to ask your doctor

Although there are fears that this move may be in an effort to cut costs, I think it’s a great initiative for patients to be inspired to take more responsibility for their own care and also explore alternatives, not just taking a single Doctor’s advice and recommendations as gospel.

The questions that this initiative proposes patients ask are certainly very valid.

If you’re suffering with musculoskeletal (MSK) pain, so issues with joints, muscles and other soft tissues, the all too common advice of take painkillers and rest just isn’t good enough. The majority of our patients at goPhysio are told this when they see their GP. Frustratingly, so many are also told that physio won’t work so don’t recommend it.

Yet, there are so many treatment options that would mean people recover faster and don’t suffer with a repeated cycle of injury. The long term benefits of this is not relying on painkillers, staying in work, being able to keep active and so the consequential health benefits of this…….the list goes on!

So, with patients being inspired to actually ask Dr’s what there options are, it may encourage Dr’s to have a broader and more open view of the valid options.

Another common misconception held by people with MSK problems is that only a scan or X Ray will actually reveal what’s going on and this is often re-enforced in a medical setting. However, research has demonstrated that this isn’t true. Many studies have found there to be changes on X Ray or scans in people with no symptoms at all and visa versa, there to be no symptoms in people with physical changes on imaging.

By patients questioning

Do I really need this?

This could avoid waiting for unnecessary and costly imaging, that actually won’t change the best treatment or management options. More often than not, treatment is the same irrelevant of what a scan or X ray shows.

A very powerful question is

What can I do to help myself?

People who take responsibility for their care are generally more likely to follow a treatment programme. So, rather than be a passive recipient of care or medication and wait for someone to ‘fix’ them, people can be empowered to help themselves.

This is a great move and people really want the right information, to be empowered with some knowledge and be directed to the right sources. There are lot’s of places to look yourself online, but without knowing the validity of the information, you can be afraid that it’s not the right thing to do. So, with a little guidance on this, patients could access relevant resources that may help them manage the problem themselves.

A core part of our management of MSK conditions at goPhysio is enabling and educating patients to help themselves. So tailored advice, an exercise programme and information about their condition. This really is key to a patient’s overall care and recovery.

Read more about the scheme here and there is also a page dedicated to managing back pain, which 8 out of 10 people will suffer with at some point in their lives.