Try an Undirected Office Visit, and Regain an Emotional Bond

Gregory A. Hood, MD


December 01, 2014

In This Article

We Need to Stop Grabbing Data Points

But what happens when the most important story, or a key element that would bring our search to the correct conclusion, lies on the next page, the one not turned over? Rather than seeing the patient as he or she is, we have transitioned to grabbing for the data points that we require. The transition is sublime. It makes completing one's tasks easier in a world that is getting more complex, faster, and pressured with each passing year.

But how do we recognize the costs? Are you brave enough to face these costs? Are you willing to have a patient encounter that is, for all intents and purposes, open-ended?

Carrying the analogy further, one should consider the publication in June by Icon Books of Mark Forsyth's booklet, The Unknown Unknown, about independent bookshops. In it, he explains "the delight of not getting what you wanted."[1]

Of course, this is not a rebuke of the medical hierarchy, nor a lament of how patients often feel when they leave the medical office. Rather, he lauds the inefficiency of undirected browsing as a lost and derided yet effective method of finding that which is valuable. It seems that we have paid for our society's valuing of temporal and fiscal responsibility with our sense of discovery and balance.

Try a house call. Try an unstructured, undirected visit with your patients. Particularly try it for those with whom you have had trouble establishing a connection, or treating or understanding their anxiety, fatigue, or pain. You run the danger that you will enjoy yourself, that time will speed by, and that you will find that which you have been missing. In doing so, you may find the answer which you seek, you may find yourself, and you may find why Watson should not plan to replace you anytime soon.


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