Improving the Connection Between Patients and their Physicians

By Dr. Philip Bretsky

I recently read an article that described the importance of having a strong and trustworthy relationship with your physician. For obvious reasons, this connection leads to better medical outcomes because patients feel more comfortable communicating with their doctors about personal and sensitive topics. I believe that there are a number of intangibles that make a connection more likely. Helpful to me has been a wide array of life experiences that has afforded me the ability to meet and interact with a lot of different people with a variety of lifestyles.  Everything from my Dad’s graduate students when I was a kid, to living in India for two years, to working with the homeless in London and doing clinical HIV research in the early 1990s. Each of these experiences helped me form a non-judgmental approach to medicine and a general understanding of life’s difficulties and challenges.

Also, being independent and not working for an institution reduces the external pressure that I have. I am not working to attain any health system’s stated goals or measures of quality. I’m focused on what the patient wants and what is best for them. Our office is also structured so that when I’m in with a patient, there is no interruption. The time between myself and the patient in the exam room is protected time and allows for open and honest communication.

We also take care of a tremendous number of families – often multi generational – and this adds a layer of understanding and sensitivity to family dynamics and health risks. And because I live and work in Santa Monica, I often see my patients and their families outside of the office during daily activities. This provides me and my patients a tremendous opportunity to foster good feelings and mutual respect and caring. By building these connections, I can feel confident that my patients trust me to care for them and provide them with the best possible medical outcomes.

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