This month, we've been talking all about the patient-provider relationship. Today we're sharing another patient's story with you, from someone who is a bit of a physical therapy frequent flyer. Rebecca Joseph is a medical student at Tufts University who is currently studying to become a primary care physician, so she has a unique perspective as patient AND provider. We really appreciate her taking the the time to share her thoughts and experiences with us. Thanks, Rebecca!
My thoughts about the patient-provider relationship are mostly from the perspective of a patient (I have spent my fair share of time in physical therapy), but since starting medical school a couple of years ago, I have started to gain a better understanding of the provider side of the relationship too.
Physical therapy is no different from any other type of patient care; the relationship between the provider and the patient is essential for success.
When we talk about successful patient-provider relationships in my medical school classes, it sometimes feels like a big list of what not to do. The list of dos is shorter and usually sounds something along the lines of “be a good person.”
That focus on what not do probably occurs because it’s a lot more common, and I experienced this first hand after my rotator cuff surgery. I had a therapist tell me that I didn’t need any more PT because I could lift a 5lb weight. But the thing is, I was trying to get back to being a collegiate-level soccer goalie. It became quite clear that the therapist I was working with had not put in the time to understand my real goals (no pun intended) for completing PT.
I also recently had a physical therapist tell me that maybe I was just getting too old to run long distance and I should try just walking. I’m 25.
Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to think of examples of what physical therapists shouldn’t do if they're trying to build relationships.
So what should be on that list of dos?
These days there is a lot of talk about individualized healthcare.
For doctors, nurses, physical therapists or anyone else who takes care of patients, having realistic expectations and meeting patients where they are at is one of the best ways to provide personalized care.
Everyone comes into physical therapy with a different story, whether they are an elite athlete or were injured in an accident, and it’s important for therapists to adjust their program and their interactions to meet the needs of each patient. I first started using the video home exercise prescription tool from StriveHub, and as a patient it made it so much easier to get care that fit my needs at the time. I could watch my exercises if I forgot how to complete them, message my PT with a question, and get reminded of when to do my exercises. It allows for better communication, which turns into faster progress.
When recovering from an injury, having a good relationship with a trainer or physical therapist makes a huge difference. Having access to innovative tools (like StriveHub) is continually making it easier for providers and patients to develop these relationships.
As personalized healthcare relies more and more on the content in electronic health records, it makes complete sense that physical therapy should too. When these tools are designed well and utilized properly, they have the ability to make both providers and patients happier and more successful in achieving their goals.
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