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How Patients and Physicians Can Reach Common Ground on Healthcare Expectations - Factum Consulting Ltd. | Boutique Consultancy with Global Expertise
UK: +44 (0) 7887.661.589 & US: +1.281.416.2323 contact@factumltd.com

Expectations can have a tremendous impact on determining the success of any relationship. The patient-provider relationship in healthcare is no different.

Over the past few decades, the healthcare industry has slowly shifted focus from a physician-centered care model to a more patient-centered care model. While many improvements have been made stemming from this shift, one unfortunate byproduct has been the increased difficulty in managing patients’ and providers’ healthcare expectations.

To help remedy this, below are a few common healthcare expectations patients have, as well as how both patients and physicians can address them in appropriate ways.

œMy physician should be reachable at all times

It’s not uncommon for patients to have unrealistic expectations for reaching their physician. Similarly, physicians sometimes have unrealistic expectations for reasonable response times to patients.

Physicians can’t be available 24/7. Yes, they take vacations and paid time off, to the benefit (and occasionally to the inconvenience) of their patients. As with any professional, proper work-life balance is essential for maintaining high levels of performance and avoiding burnout. For physicians, that means being able to provide high-quality care throughout their tenure.

The fix: Patients and physician alike can use technology to increase the efficiency of communications between them, while reducing time commitments. Of course, each party may need to set aside their preferences for this to work effectively. But that’s what compromise is all about.

Many healthcare providers currently use online portals or web-based platforms where patients can access their own records and communicate with physicians in secure and timely ways. For physicians, this enables them to respond to patient concerns when they have time. For patients, this means they can communicate with their physicians outside of regular business hours.

œMy physician should take their time

No patient wants to feel rushed or like they weren’t given enough time to have their concerns addressed. If asked or surveyed, these patients will report their healthcare expectations were not met.

Patients are keenly aware of how much time they get with their physician. Understandably, physicians typically have a number of patients scheduled for the day, but patients want to be treated humanely, not like a timeslot.

The fix: Patients should be as prepared as possible for their visit by writing down any questions they have, as it’s easy to forget during a doctor’s visit. Bringing any records requested by the doctor or staff is also helpful, among other examples.

Physicians need to be cognizant of this reality and ensure they are making themselves available for an appropriate amount of time to ensure the patient’s consultation is satisfactory. These steps will ensure mutual respectful of the patient’s and physician’s time.

œMy physician should see me when I’m available

Patients often think they get to see their provider or a specialist within a short period of time and are frustrated when they aren’t accommodated. In our current age of healthcare”with major changes in policy and nursing shortages”waiting for nonessential care is the reality we face.

Healthcare facilities have an amazing ability to come together in emergency situations, pulling necessary resources quickly. However, realistically, that just isn’t going to happen for something that can safely wait a few weeks.

The fix: Providers need to clearly communicate how patients can have their needs met and in what time frame. On the other hand, patients need to better understand how the healthcare system operates as a whole to address their needs. For example, primary care providers don’t provide emergency care and emergency care providers don’t manage chronic issues.

œMy physician will fix me

Patients often think that they will be œfixed when they come in for a doctor’s appointment, but this isn’t a fair expectation to place on your physician. Even the best physicians cannot explain the symptoms of every patient, especially on the first visit and without previous events to compare them to.

Depending on the situation, there could be a definitive diagnosis and multiple treatment options. However, there could also be no detectable abnormality and, subsequently, no relevant treatment options either. There are even some issues that don’t have cures and need to be managed, not treated.

Many patients come to prestigious healthcare facilities with the hopeful expectation that they will leave with their health issue resolved. That simply isn’t realistic.

What’s more is the fact there might be a treatment plan set up that is a multi-step approach, which means it could take a while for the patient to feel better.

The fix: Again, it comes down to communication. Physicians need to ensure the patient is aware of the efforts being taken to resolve their health issue and how long that may take, as well as whether the issue can even be resolved. As for patients, they need to understand the care being given them by keeping an open mind and asking questions.

The result is patients feeling that their physician is doing everything they can to help manage the patient’s health issues. They should be able to trust that their physician is using their knowledge, expertise, and even colleagues to fully address their healthcare needs.


Like any other relationship, both parties involved need to compromise. They need to maintain a proper balance. This way, physicians can practice to their fullest extent and help as many patients as possible, while still providing the quality of care every patient needs and deserves. Mutual understanding from both patients and physicians will strengthen the patient-physician relationship.


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