Written By: Kamei Triebell
Patient-physician communication is an integral part of the clinical practice. Patients who understand their doctors are more likely to acknowledge health problems, understand treatment options, modify behavior accordingly, and follow their medication schedules. Research has shown that effective patient-physician communication can improve a patient’s health as significantly as many drugs. However, communication between the busy physician and patient can strain due to active work schedules, time constraints, and missed appointments.
From obtaining the patient’s medical history to discussing a treatment plan, the physician’s relationship with his patient is built on effective communication. Although much of the communication between patients and physicians involve information-sharing about diagnosis, medication, and general topics relating to the trial and care, most physicians will recognize that these encounters also involve the patient’s search for a therapeutic relationship. A patient with a weak relationship with their physician will likely have difficulty describing their symptoms. One review of randomized controlled trials on patient-physician communications reported that the quality of communication influenced patient outcomes in 16 of 21 studies. It is essential for the physician to listen to patient concerns, provide comfort, and foster the relationship.
The traditional method of communication in clinical settings generally involve minimal interaction with the patient and long periods of time with no communication at all, usually asking patients to record their symptoms and daily activities in a paper diary to be reviewed at their next appointment. A patient will meet with their physician once or twice a month at a designated study site. Being the only time they will see their doctor, this can lead to a patient feeling uneasy about the trial and may result in them dropping out. In addition, if a patient is not performing well in a study by failing to complete diaries regularly or because of worsening symptoms, it can take weeks or months for sites to notice. Patients also may begin feeling that their treatment is not a priority for the physician, which can result in a damaged relationship.
Avoiding communication pitfalls and sharpening basic communication can help strengthen the patient-physician bond that many patients and physicians feel is lacking. Mobile technology is leading the way towards resolving this issue. The familiarity and universal nature of mobile devices makes the technology perfectly positioned to integrate into the clinical research landscape to help physicians and patients communicate more effectively. It is considered an integral part of everyday life and offers one of the quickest and easiest methods of two-way communication with patients in clinical trials.
While branching off from a familiar pathway is always a risk, mobile technology and clinical trial software are revolutionizing the way trials are conducted and improving the physician-patient relationship. If a patient has an immediate concern, they are now able to contact their physician right away. In addition, if a physician needs to contact a patient regarding a change or issue in the trial, they can send a notification or message to the patient using a clinical trial software. Paper diaries are also no longer a requirement, as patients can tell their physician directly how they are feeling and if they experience any adverse symptoms via eDiary. Physicians and patients are now able to communicate openly and frequently, resulting in a happier patient and more accurate data for the physicians.
Parallel 6 has developed the Clinical 6™ platform, which is completely changing the way patients and physicians are communicating. All contact can now be done through a single mobile application for quick and easy access to medical care and questions. If you would like to learn more about Clinical 6™, please visit our website and request a demo.