Sunday, April 21, 2019

What Happens When Patients Find Out How Good Their Doctors Really Are?

Looks like doctors and mercenary medical agents are back in the news for all the wrong reasons again in yesterday's Straits Times article.

While we are on doctors, I came across this interesting article on "The Bell Curve: What happens when patients find out how good their doctors really are?"

It gave me a totally different perspective on the medical world. Be it in medicine, physiotherapy or any other health related field, it is now fashionable to say we're practicing evidenced-based medicine, evidenced-based physiotherapy etc. This simply means whatever we do or use to treat patients is backed by research rather than our own instincts or ad-hoc experimentation.

The article documented the results of a Cleveland pediatrician named LeRoy Matthews in the 1960's. Due to his persistent efforts, his hospital's mortality rates for cystic fibrosis was less than two percent compared to higher than twenty percent for the rest of the country (USA). What made his program different was that he started aggressive treatment long before his patients became sick.

Warren Warwick, the pediatrician who conducted the study of LeRoy Matthews much higher than normal success rate, now heads the Minneapolis cystic fibrosis program. Ever since that study, Warwick has tried to do better than everyone else. It currently has the best results in the country.

What makes him and the hospital's program different is his combination of focus, aggressiveness and being inventive. He thinks hard about his patients, pushes them and always improvises.

From the article, "We are used to thinking that a doctor's ability depends on mainly science and skill. The lesson from Minneapolis is that these may be the easiest parts of care. Even doctors with great knowledge and technical skill can have mediocre results; the more nebulous factors like aggressiveness and consistency and ingenuity can matter enormously."

The first question that comes to my mind after reading the article is where Sports Solutions and Physio Solutions stand on a bell curve for Physiotherapy? We need to push ourselves to make us the best at making patients get better fastest. To always learn, to be consistent, to innovate. That is our promise to you.

Here's the link to the article. It takes fairly long to read, but definitely worth your time.

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