Patient Education is Good for Business

November 28, 2012

This morning my 9am patient called requesting that we have a phone session. She had gone to her brother's home to help her nephew, a young man I had seen a few months ago. Unfortunately he is psychotic, or at least is in a prodromal stage of a psychotic illness. The biggest problem I have had with him is his and his family's reluctance to come to grips with the reality of his condition.

Fortunately his aunt, my first patient of the day, has been around the block a time or two. She and I have struggled through the process of coming to terms with her condition then the acute treatment phase and now we're into a maintenance phase and she is doing quite well. All along I have taught her as much as I can about my understanding of her illness and the field's intelligence about it. This came in handy yesterday in conversation with her nephew. He was asking how long he would need to take his medication. “Two years. Just get your head around it.” If we're lucky she just sold a patient on continuing treatment.

I couldn't've said it better myself. She had done her share of plowing through her own brand of disbelief in the reality of her illness. I do my best to be compassionately straightforward with my patients. I do my best to educate them about the field's current understanding of etiology, treatment options and prognosis. This brand of patient care sells itself. There were many factors at play in my patient's attitude toward her nephew but one easily over looked by us clinicians is word of mouth marketing. Doing good work, in the final analysis, is the best promotional campaign we have. All the rest is just spreading the good news.



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