November 10-15

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ACR Convergence 2023

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Patient-provider relationships significantly affect outcomes


4 minutes

Adena Batterman, MSW, LCSW
Adena Batterman, MSW, LCSW

Growing evidence demonstrates that the patient-provider relationship significantly impacts clinical outcomes. But clinicians constrained by time, payment models, and other concerns can struggle to cultivate these relationships.

During the ARHP Daltroy Memorial Lecture Monday morning, two experts will offer advice about enhancing the patient-provider relationship in an effort to build rapport and trust. What Matters in Patient-Provider Relationships? Values, Attitudes & Beliefs will take place from 7:30 – 8:30 am in Room W185a.

Adena Batterman, MSW, LCSW, Senior Manager of Inflammatory Arthritis Support and Education at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY, will present “Healer Know thy Patient (and Thyself).” Batterman said the underpinning of patient-centered care is the patient-provider partnership, and during her talk she will examine that relationship and why it’s important.

“There’s a wide body of evidence that demonstrates the importance of the patient-provider relationship on patient outcomes,” she said. “Empathic care is the foundation. How do we go about building that? What issues do we need to consider to mindfully cultivate that relationship? It’s essential that we look at the patient experience — to ask who our patients are in the context of cultural experience, family, support systems, the emotional impact of illness, and their experiences of the health care system. How does all of this impact patient outcomes?”

Of course, she said, there are two people in the room when the patient-provider relationship forms and decisions are made.

“What life experiences and history impact the provider’s ability to deliver empathetic care?” she asked. “We must explore that as well.”

Batterman will talk about challenges in delivering empathic care to patients, with time constraints and the emotional work of caring for chronically ill patients creating a common barrier.

“Realistically, in a short encounter, it’s not possible to take on the role of all the disciplines,” she said. “So how do we work with other disciplines and tap into the expertise they can bring to patient care? Whether it’s social work or psychology for mental health assessment or nursing for patient education or PAs or NPs, using all of these disciplines can help us offer comprehensive care. So we’ll discuss how and when do you reach out to these professionals.”

Batterman also will discuss how mindfulness strategies and developing formal and informal support networks can help providers to care for themselves so they can better care for patients.

Jillian Rose, MPH, LCSW
Jillian Rose, MPH, LCSW

Jillian Rose, MPH, LCSW, Assistant Director of Community Engagement, Diversity & Research at the Hospital for Special Surgery, will then present “History Matters: Using Historical Context to Bring Patient Care Into Focus.”

“We’ve long talked about the concept of evidenced-based practice and patient-centered care, but what does it mean to really practice from a patient-centered stance?” Rose said. “We now have a lot of research looking at disparities in care that are spawned from historical and systematic inequities and bias. To address these issues, we first have to be willing to assess for them, and the first step in that process is creating partnerships with patients.”

Rose plans a practical look at how clinicians can create those partnerships.

“How do we consider all of what our patients are bringing into the room to truly put them at the center, to be best informed about who they are?” Rose said. “How do we create authentic relationships that lead to better outcomes?”

The goal is for clinicians to first assess and address the biases they bring to the table, using models that invite patients to meaningfully participate in the decision-making regarding their care.

“What we’re presenting is not an easy fix for the very real barriers clinicians face in building strong patient relationships — whether it’s lack of time or reimbursement or health literacy, etc.” Rose said. “What we are proposing is the opportunity to examine the way we practice. How our own practice might present subtle barriers to patient engagement and what tools we can use to enhance our practice to foster better patient partnerships and ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

The session will give attendees tools to enhance awareness about how biases can affect patient’s attitudes and behaviors.

“It’s about providing a tool box and getting clinicians to think about how they can mix and match options from that tool box and integrate them into their practice at different junctures of their interactions with patients,” Rose said. “The biggest barrier is the willingness of clinicians to take that step. We hope the evidence we present inspires people to take that step.”