Saul J. Weiner, M.D., and Alan Schwartz, PH.D., join Mark Alyn to talk about their new book, Listening for What Matters: Avoiding Contextual Errors in Health Care. The book is based on 10 years of groundbreaking research conducted by the authors and explains how and why doctors commonly fail when diagnosing and treating patients. With federal grants, Weiner and Schwartz conducted studies, which first sent actors, called Unannounced Standardized Patients (“USPs”) and then real patients, to hundreds of doctor’s visits with hidden audio-recording devices so that the research team could listen and analyze the results of the visits. This is their story.
The focus behind the experiments was to find out how often doctors picked up on “contextual red flags” alluded to by the patients. These are clues that something is going on in a patient’s life that needs to be addressed for a care plan to be effective. So, if a patient drops clues that he is unable to afford an expensive brand name medication after losing health insurance coverage, then Weiner and Schwartz would observe whether the doctor picks up on the clues and prescribes a lower-cost generic medicine. The studies document that physicians are frequently overlooking crucial clues about patients’ individual life circumstances and making medical errors as a result. These mistakes by doctors are costly and pervasive and can be prevented. Weiner and Schwartz explain how doctors and other health-care professionals can learn to listen better, ask the right questions, and get better results.
In their interview with Mark, Saul and Alan will discuss:
- Some of the most surprising things they learned while conducting these experiments—stories from the trenches revealed by the actors and patients that went into the doctors’ offices undercover
- Why doctors so frequently miss patient clues that they are struggling – termed “contextual red flags” – even when these red flags seem obvious to the reader
- What our medical schools can do to better train health care professionals to listen and engage with patients on an individual level so that patients’ health care outcomes are better
- Why contextualized care is more cost effective and why it doesn’t have to take any more time out of a busy doctor’s day than the current way care is delivered.
- What patients can do to better their, or a loved one’s, care if they don’t feel their health-care professionals are listening to them
The book is available from Oxford University Press and can be bought online via Amazon, Oxford, or another retailer and you can find out more about Saul and Alan on their website: http://www.contextualizingcare.org
air date: 2/16/16