Context, Understanding, and Empathy: #IWishMyDoc & #IWishMyPatient

Stacey TinianovBy

If you could openly offer any suggestion to your physician, what would it be and why?

If you could kindly suggest something that could improve your patient’s time in the clinic or overall health, what would you tell them?

I wish our pediatrician emailed a health questionnaire prior to my children’s annual appointments, so I could sit and review the questions with them in advance. My kids would feel more prepared for their appointment and would have more time for questions and dialogue related to their growth and development.

I wish my doctor had asked me about the types of leisure activities I enjoy and/or my favorite ways to reduce stress before he shared the tumor board’s recommendation of a mastectomy. My clinical options and ultimate decision wouldn’t have changed, but I would have felt like my surgeon and oncologist were concerned about the long term and overall impacts of the treatment to my quality of life.

Although whole health and wellness is the goal for both physicians and patients, we occasionally seem disconnected from—or even at odds with—each other. A health care provider’s best intentions can be crushed by time constraints. A patient’s desire to be well can get lost in the mix of misunderstanding.

What do you wish your health care provider did, said, asked or heard?

What do you wish patients knew to ask about?

Knowledge is power. It wouldn’t take much for my kids’ pediatrician to send us a health questionnaire ahead of time or for my oncologist to ask me about my leisure activities. They want what’s best for my health, too.

In an effort to help provide context, improve understanding, generate empathy, and drive a change in behaviors between physician and patient, let’s make these wishes visible. In the month of February, with the hashtags, #IWishMyDoc and #IWishMyPatient, we can start a respectful conversation, aimed at bridging the gap between patient and physician, with health, wellness, and shared understanding at the center.

Thanks to the power of social media, we are not constrained by official survey requirements, insurance provider policies or geographic location. And, perhaps most exciting, there is no HIPAA stranglehold over sharing suggestions. Everyone can participate and everyone can learn. Patients, physicians, family members, surgeons, nurses, caretakers, phlebotomists—anyone who sees a patient under the auspices of healthcare or is themselves a patient of patient support—what are your wishes?

Sample tweets to get us started:

  • #IWishMyDoc had puzzles in the oncology waiting room. Would be a wonderful distraction.
  • #IWishMyDoc sent me a “How Are You?” email in between my 6month check-ups. Opens door for questions.
  • #IWishMyPatient would leverage phone appointments more often.
  • #IWishMyPatient shared more about their priorities so I could help them navigate more personalized treatment paths

Originally, this idea was focused on a hashtag campaign via Twitter. However, if your “wishes” don’t fit snuggly into 140 Twitter characters, try Facebook, Instagram or one of the many other platforms that my preteen & teen have surely not taught me about yet! When you tag your entry with #IWishMyDoc or #IWishMyPatient, we can collate responses and share back with the greater population at the end of the month.

Stacey is a professional educator and communicator inspired to empower patients and caregivers through collaborative education and community building. Runner. Cyclist. Coffee drinker. Organic gardener. Breast cancer thriver. Wife to one. Mom to two. Connect with her on Twitter: @coffeemommy

  • marieennisoconnor

    What a great idea. I certainly wish my doc had thought to tell me about fertility preservation when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    • Stacey Tinianov

      Thanks for sharing Marie! So critical for so many.

  • Lelainia Lloyd

    Also (too long for twitter) I wish specialists, hospitals, etc. could email forms to patients in fillable PDF form format for those who have trouble handwriting. I am happy to type in my answers, print & return to the health care provider when I see them. I have spinal cord damage from my rare disease & no feeling in my hands. Because it’s invisible, I get so much flack when I ask for help with forms in a clinical setting. I often print medical info off on my own & give t to the and this seems to also irritate them. Forms need to be accessible.

    • Whitney Zatzkin

      Lelainia, thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Stacey Tinianov

      Thank you Lelainia for adding context to your request for emailed/electronically complete-able forms. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest impact!

  • subatomicdoc

    Excellent idea. Other industries have used a similar model to get feedback. The issue of privacy makes it a little harder in healthcare but it’s still doable.

    I would add another couple – #IWishMyHospital #IWishMyInsurer . Doctors don’t have as much say in some aspects of care that patients think. Some we should solve ourselves. Some things both patients and doctors want need to be shared with healthcare organizations to effect change.

    • Whitney Zatzkin

      Beautiful recommendations to take this a step further! I know we also had recommendations to add #IWishMyNurse.

    • Stacey Tinianov

      Thanks Matt!
      Appreciate the feedback and appreciate your consistent efforts to bring patients and physicians closer together!

      • subatomicdoc

        My pleasure, Stacey. Thank you for your efforts as well. It’s amazing how social media can help us, when used well!

  • laronicaconway

    Hey my friend this is awesome! So many things I could write about myself, my mom when she was diagnosed and now my dad. There’s like this invisible wall that stops patients and docs from REALLY communicating. Be it time or frustration or just plain grouchiness. here’s hoping this gains some traction!

    • Stacey Tinianov

      Thanks for the comment & the support Laronica! Looking forward to seeing your #IWishMyDoc thoughts. Let’s breakdown that invisible wall together!

  • Jessica Deary

    subatomicdoc is right, they have used this in other industries. Healthcare organizations are finally looking to a more customer service model, where the concerns of patients are actually considered and addressed. This is a great movement forward for patients and is greatly needed, at least in my area. I would love to have a discussion with you or connect over LinkedIn. I am in the same area and love your forward thinking! Saying thank you on behalf of all patients. :)