Dialogue Volume 15, Issue 2 2019 - Page 35

PRACTICE PARTNER Communication Lessons from a TV Doctor DOC TALK By Stuart Foxman E ver play charades or Pictionary? You get the answer, and start to act or draw it out for your partner. It seems obvious, but your partner can’t guess it. So you just keep repeating the same clues until the time runs out. That, writes one doctor, is a com- mon issue when talking to patients. He calls it the curse of knowledge. You have all this data and informa- tion in your head, but aren’t convey- ing it in a way that’s easily compre- hensible. Maybe you don’t see it from the patient’s point of view. So you’re not on the same wavelength. What if you could do one thing that guaranteed better outcomes for your patients? This doctor thinks about that a lot. There is a cure- all, he suggests. It’s not exclusively a medical skill, but the simple act of communicating better: listen- ing, showing empathy, getting the patient’s perspective and ensuring mutual understanding. That’s what Alan Alda thinks. Okay, he isn’t a real doctor – but he played one on TV. Can a fictional ISSUE 2, 2019 DIALOGUE 35