Communication key to a successful treatment plan

Jon Beecroft
Jon Beecroft

I thought it would be interesting to peek inside a doctor’s mind when seeing a patient.

The first thing when meeting a patient is to listen. It is easy to assume, when someone comes in for foot or ankle pain, that it is the same thing we have seen 100 times that week. However, I was once told by a mentor that, “if you listen to your patient long enough, they will tell you what’s wrong with them.” Gathering information can be from what the patient says, labs, x-rays, ultrasound, MRI’s or CT scan. All are valuable methods.

As a physician, we have to make judgment calls daily about one’s health, both mentally and physically. One has to look at the entire body, how the patient lives, what their lifestyle is like. In addition, we decide if the treatment advised to the patient is even possible. A surgery may not be possible if a patient is not able to rest and let the surgery heal properly. Another judgment made is if the patient understands what is being explained to them. Many elderly patients may not hear well or understand what is being talked about.

Physicians think about insurance coverage. The cost of medicine can be very confusing. Insurance dictates how we are allowed to help. For example, often I need an MRI to diagnose a problem. Waiting for an insurance company to clear an MRI can be frustrating. This is difficult for the physician as well as the patient, as treatment can be delayed by insurance.

Thoughts we have at the end of the visit: Did everything get done that needs to be done? Did the prescription get sent? Did the right prescription get sent to the correct pharmacy? Is the medication covered by their insurance? Did the patient understand what the treatment process will be? Did we see the patient promptly, and did we answer all the questions? Did we return a phone call to the patient’s primary care? Did the patient’s referral go through to another specialist?

The questions go on and on. We often wake in the middle of the night and wonder what we can do to help our patients.

This is just a small view of what occurs in the mind of a physician while you are being seen. Listening to the patient, making judgment calls, how coverage or insurance plays into the treatment and finally, did everything talked and discussed during the visit get done properly and timely?

At Maricopa Foot and Ankle, our goal is always to help the patient.


This sponsored content was first published in the March edition of InMaricopa magazine.