Millions of words have been written about communication—in relationships, in business partnerships, in patient-physician interactions. (How many of those words have been read is another question.)
But an axiom for effectively conveying a thought or a feeling is that it’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it.
The knowledge gap between you and your patients is a constant concern. You know what needs to be said and key points that need to be heard. But too often in a hectic workplace, seeing patients of such varying backgrounds, messaging may be ignored.
A recent study showed the average man or woman who walks into your office may be limited in basic anatomical knowledge. Knowing where the adrenal glands are located is difficult enough, what can you do when faced with discussing atrial fibrillation (AFib) and all that goes along with such a condition?
Patients are bombarded with medical news that emphasizes extremes. Will coffee fight heart disease or give them migraines? Will each daily bike ride really add two hours to their life?
In thinking about patients with AFib, two recent stories from Cardiovascular Business show how effective messaging can break through this white noise.
The first deals with dementia risks in AFib patients taking blood thinners. Such an approach cuts risks by 48 percent. Want a better way to say that? The study’s author offers one.
“If you know that AFib eats away your brain at a slow but steady pace and that you can prevent it by staying on treatment, I think most AF patients would find this a very strong argument for continuing treatment. … No brain can withstand a constant bombardment of microscopic clots in the long run,” wrote Leif Friberg, MD, PhD, and Marten Rosenqvist, MD, PhD, with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
The second case deals with a study about moderate drinking, which can boost risks associated with AFib.
“Overall, the quantity of alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of AFib, even among moderate drinkers,” Imre Janszky, MD, PhD, et al. wrote. “However, alcohol consumption within recommended limits did not substantially increase the risk for AFib.”
The authors’ message is a little less dramatic than Friberg’s. Could a real-world, tangible example help a patient amend problematic behavior? Probably.
Medical professionals have a language all their own, but that doesn’t keep one from fluency in patient.