Doctor-Patient Communication, a responsibility for both

By: Corine Jansen
Director & Chair (Health),
Global Listening Board.

Most doctors, health care managers and policy makers will say that the patients’ position is central to health care; but ‘We know best what is best for you’ is still a common attitude.

Nevertheless, governments of most European countries want more consumer involvement and also many doctors are authentic in their wish to involve patients in the way health care should be organised and delivered.

In my opinion doctors and patient are both responsible for open conversation but the doctors should be aware of the responsibility given to them. And patient empowerment is not only about patient rights but also about patient obligations, resulting in a more balanced doctor–patient relationship.

Within the medical consultation room, listening to patients, taking them seriously, and showing empathy have proven to be of universal value for people. Therefore, doctors should be trained to practice these behaviors. The other challenge is to invest in methods to give patients a voice in health care debates, and to listen carefully to what they have to say.

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