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Health Spotlight: Bedside manners matter

Health Spotlight: More than medicine: Beside manners matter

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Heart attacks, car accidents, falls, cancer — the list goes on and on. Thirty-four million people will be admitted to a hospital this year. But there’s more to a patient’s care than medicines and surgeries.

Beyond the medical expertise and technical skills, how doctors engage with patients has a profound impact on their healing process.

Patch Adams knew it. In the movie, Robin Williams portrays a doctor who recognizes the intrinsic value of connecting with his patients. In real life, a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Jaren Riley, has seen firsthand how it can impact the children he works with.

“She was the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen in my life. And she had scoliosis from the get-go,” Riley said.

He’s talking about his patient Nellie. Riley watched her grow from toddler to teen.

“As we progressed through the years, she went from smiling all the time and talking to me and hugging me to all of a sudden she wouldn’t talk to me at all, and she would avoid eye contact,” Riley said.

That’s when he started wearing costumes during their visits to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

“The best one was the tyrannosaurus rex costume,” Riley said.

Numerous studies show a strong correlation between a positive doctor-patient relationship and improved health. Research in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reveals that patients who reported higher levels of satisfaction with their doctor are more likely to adhere to treatment plans, leading to better health outcomes.

Studies also show better doctor-patient relationships lead to reduced medical errors as communication between the two is more open.

Riley believes he gains much more than he gives.

“You kind of feel like they’re the ones making your day better all day long,” he said.

Research published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine shows that when doctors demonstrate empathy, actively involve patients in decision-making, and provide emotional support, it strengthens the bond between them.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.