How Doctors Can Improve Transparency with Patients


In another blog post, I discussed the benefits of a centered approach for both doctors and patients, one of the main benefits being improved transparency. Improved transparency from both doctors and patients is vital for establishing a healthy and trusting doctor-patient relationship. There is a call for greater transparency in any kind of service-oriented position, and it is especially important in the healthcare industry “in order to create a true culture of patient safety,” according to Any leader in the healthcare industry should be able to practice transparency in order to instill a positive healthcare culture.

The healthcare industry has experienced a dwindling level of transparency over the years, even with some physicians specifically trained to take a patient-centered approach, primarily because of healthcare and unequal coverage. Patients paid copays to their doctors to cover the costs of appointments, but doctors were unsure how much of their charges would be reimbursed. To compensate for increased overhead costs and reduced insurance reimbursements, many doctors started taking on more patients, and quality of care suffered as a result.

In order to retain patients and provide quality care, physicians cannot afford to ignore the importance of transparency. Luckily, many physicians realize the need to be transparent and take active measures to do so. Whether you strive to be transparent with your patients or not, there is always room for improvement. Oftentimes, physicians find themselves pressed for time and fall short of giving patients the level of care they deserve. Here are some tips to help physicians improve patient transparency.


  • Create a culture of transparency in the workplace: Transparency will never have a chance to blossom in the practice unless every staff member is onboard. That means promoting transparency at all levels, among nurses, receptionists, and physicians. Patients should feel they can get access to valuable information such as cost-of-care from any of the medical personnel they interact with.



  • Give patients and family members access to their medical records: Patients have a legal right to their personal medical records, so make it accessible to them. Many medical practices now offer patient portals where patients can access their records online, outside of the office.



  • Be honest about risks and any harm caused: Be honest with patients about the risks associated with any procedure. If they have questions or concerns, you should take the time to give honest and detailed answers. Additionally, if you ever make a mistake (and all physicians do) you should provide the patient with full disclosure about any harm that was caused right away, apologize and own up to your mistake, and provide a resolution.



  • Have cost-of-care conversations: According to Dr. Nora B. Henrickson in an interview for Healthcare in America, it is imperative for a patient’s health and peace of mind that they know exactly how much their medical expenses would be, especially with something like a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Henrickson gives the example of a patient who experienced extreme anxiety for a year after her cancer treatments ended because she didn’t know how much she would be charged and when the bills would stop coming.


There are many ways in which healthcare providers can be more transparent with their patients. Ultimately, as Health Catalyst explains, “success in our evolving industry ultimately comes down to demonstrating higher quality at a lower cost.” Not all patients care about establishing a personal relationship with their physicians, but healthcare will never be successful unless transparency is a key consideration.



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