By Ginny Adams, RN, BSN, MPH, CPHRM, Coverys Senior Risk Consultant

Today’s healthcare providers are embracing the opportunity to improve patient outcomes and interpersonal relationships by partnering with patients in their care and treatment decisions. Imagine the following scenario:

Sandra is sitting in her physician’s office and has just received a diagnosis of anemia. Her physician has a proven approach to treating this condition and must choose how to position the conversation with Sandra. The physician can start the discussion with any of the following sentences. 

A: “You are anemic. Here’s what I’m going to do to you. I’m going to give you an injection today that will make you feel better in the short term. And I’m sending you home with an oral treatment that you must take every day until you come back for your follow-up appointment.”

B: “You are anemic. Here’s what I’d like to do for you. I suggest we start with an injection you can get today in the office and that you take an oral iron treatment daily for the next several weeks. Let me tell you a bit more about this treatment plan and what it means for you …”

C: “You are anemic. I’d like to speak with you about our options for how best to treat this deficiency so you can start feeling better in the short term and so you stay healthy in the long term. OK? Have you ever heard of anemia? Let’s start the conversation with what I’m seeing and then talk about our options.”

Which approach engages Sandra? Which one demonstrates a desire to partner with her in her care? Evaluating and tweaking your approach to these types of conversations can go a long way toward creating goodwill and increase your patients’ engagement in their care and treatment.


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No legal or medical advice intended. This post includes general risk management guidelines. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal or medical developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal or medical advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.