Medical Care

Doctors Measured on Patient Care

Researchers now have a concrete tool to evaluate whether doctors are giving good “patient-centered care” – i.e. taking their patients’ perspectives into account.

Experts from the University of Missouri worked with real patients to determine a list of behaviors that would prove whether physicians were providing patient-centered care. Students at the university’s medical school are now assessed as to whether they meet those standards.

“The test forces the future physician to go beyond just determining a diagnosis and to focus on behaviors that play an essential role to the effectiveness of the care he or she provides,” said Kimberly Hoffman, Ph.D, associate dean for curriculum and assessment, and research associate professor of family and community medicine at MU.

Hoffman wrote a study describing how the “assessment tool” was developed.

The test is called the Patient-centered Care – Objective Structured Clinical Exam (PCC-OSCE); it’s given to third-year medical students because they are then involved in clnical rotations.

“We developed very real, complex scenarios,” said Hoffman. “The test uses standardized patients, standardized family members and standardized health providers to simulate real-life situations.”

According to a news release from the university, actors portray patients. Sudents are tested on how they interact with patients of all age groups, how well they get information from a patient and how well they create a care plan that takes into account patient preferences.

“One thing that is pretty striking with our curriculum is how early you get involved in patient care, with an emphasis on patient-centered care,” said Woody Smelser, a fourth-year medical student from New Madrid, Missouri, who is president of his medical school class at MU.

“We get very detailed feedback, in the form of comments, and even videos, from our simulation-center encounters and through the patient-centered care exam,” said Smelser. “When we can actually see things we did and did not do — like crossing our arms, making us appear guarded and not open to the patient — it helps us to overcome some of those behaviors we may not have realized we were using, and it reinforces the good behaviors we did do.”

Hoffman’s research was published in the journal Medical Teacher.

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