We Demand That Our Doctors SEE US

An article in Healio (10/23) reported the results of a study of 120 cancer patients “nearly three-quarters of patients with advanced cancer preferred doctors who communicated with them face-to-face while holding a notepad rather than repeatedly using a computer.”  

Hello, why the surprise here?

In a presentation scheduled to be delivered at the Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium, Andrew S. Epstein, MD, ASCO expert and medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said of the research implications, “In an age of ubiquitous technology, this study is an important reminder of the need to address the potential for technology to interfere with the patient-clinician interface, which is a critical component of the relationship between these two parties.”

Look, we already know this fact.  The real question for us isn’t the research finding, but what we need to do if we find that our doctor doesn’t speak with us but instead engages with the computer screen. 

Usually, physicians engage with the computer during our meetings with them so that their notes are up to date without needing to take a few seconds afterward and update their notes.  Doctors who engage in this practice are being selfish. 

Forget our personal preferences that we want to feel that our doctors engage with us; there is good evidence that a doctor can gain as much valuable clinical information about us by carefully observing us as well as listening to what we say to them.  

The standard of care should dictate that our clinical caregivers engage us, not their computer.

Joel T. Nowak, MA, MSW wrote this Post.  Joel is the CEO/Executive Director of Cancer ABCs.  He is a Cancer Thriver diagnosed with five primary cancers - Thyroid, Metastatic Prostate, Renal, Melanoma, and Appendiceal Cancer
a rare cancer.