What can patients really expect from their physicians today?

It may seem odd during these turbulent, cynical times, but a lot of people still trust their personal physician. People that have high trust in their physician tend to believe that their physician;

* Is up-to-date with the latest medical treatments
* Keeps track of all important aspects of their health during and between visits
* Can be depended upon to act in the patient’s best interest

This broad-brushed view of patient trust may seem quaint and antiquated today given all the health care safety and quality issues we read about today. But this is what the research tells us.

But are these beliefs still appropriate today? What can patients realistically expect from their personal physician today in the way of health care?

If the industry press is to be believed, the biggest problems facing primary care physicians these days is lack of time and lack of adequate reimbursement. As a patient, this makes me wonder what my doctor is not doing for me because 1) he/she is not being paid to do it or 2) there’s not enough time to do it.

Some of the today’s shortcomings are well documented in the health care literature:

* On average, US adults receive only 50% of recommended care
* Up to 30% of adults are walking around with undiagnosed hypertension and diabetes
* 66% of people with hypertension do not have it under control
* Up to 20% of discharged hospital patients will be readmitted with 30 days even though they are considered preventable

But is the average patient really aware of everything that seems to be falling through the cracks these days, e.g., care gaps?

What do you think? If you were to make a list of what patients should or should not expect from their physician, what would that list look like?

Steve Wilkins is a former hospital executive and consumer health behavior researcher who blogs at Mind The Gap.

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