Perry Wilson One of the most important aspects of medicine is the doctor-patient relationship.
However, Wilson said the relationship has soured in recent years and has led to complications in treating people.
Wilson spoke with ABC News Live Tuesday about his new book, How Medicine Works and When It Doesn’t: Learn Who to Trust to Get It and Stay Healthy, and offers advice on how people can improve this relationship.
ABC NEWS LIVE: It’s January. Everyone has their own ideas about being healthy, and there are plenty of tips and tricks for that. You’re actually pointing out, though, that the medical system itself is kind of to blame for some of those scams, if you will.
Doctor. And. Perry Wilson: Yeah, well, part of the problem is that people get pushed away from [the] The medical system is good knowledge because often the health system itself fails to meet their real needs. We have frustrations with insurance companies, [and] with pharmaceutical companies. You don’t have time to see your doctor because your doctor works for a company that tells you to see more and more patients all the time. What this frustration leads to is people fleeing from good scientific foundations. [and] Evidence-based medicine and in the arms of people who may not have their best interests at heart promoting unsafe practices. And this can be really harmful to your health. We have to kind of change that framework.
ABC NEWS LIVE: You write, “Trust is the most powerful force in medicine.” Explain what you mean by that and where you feel the trust breakdown is coming from.
Wilson: Yeah, well, that relationship between a patient and their doctor, we call it the therapeutic alliance. And I actually like that term because it makes me feel like we’re in some kind of battle against disease. And what it takes is a real, deep bond of trust. I must trust you to tell me the truth. You are open with me about what is bothering you and what you are up to. And you have to trust me that I have your best interest in my heart. And when we try to operate within a profit-driven framework that doesn’t consider the real needs of patients, well, that trust just doesn’t work anymore.
ABC NEWS LIVE: And when you talk about that trust between the doctor and the patient relationship, how does one rebuild and even solidify that? Because I have to say, when I go to my doctor, I feel like I’m on a clipboard. OK. how are you? How much do you weigh? What is your height? Are you feeling okay? Well, on to the next person. So how do I actually have this relationship?
Wilson: Yeah, well, it comes from both sides. For patients, they need to start realizing that a lot of the things that they see online on social media, what I call [an] Easy fix or one simple thing, medicine. One nutritional supplement to take to give you abs or one exercise to relieve depression. These things are not real. Real change takes effort, and so patients have to move around a bit to understand that, that we’re going to ask you some tough things; Real lifestyle change if you want to be healthy. At the same time, doctors need to start recognizing that we are on the same side as the patients. We and the patients are against this system.
And once doctors begin to realize that they have more in common with their patients than they do with the executives who write the checks, we can see some real change.
ABC NEWS LIVE: What is good medicine as you define it here in the book?
Wilson: Well, good medicine comes from a number of things. It is about when people look at the data and come to their conclusions based on the data rather than selecting what they want their conclusion to be and finding the appropriate data. We live in a world for better or for worse. If you want to find data that supports what you think is true or what you want to be true, it’s there. It might be wrong, but you can google it. It is on social media. Thus, people cannot, to make the best choices for their health, decide just what they want to infer beforehand. They have to come to him with an open mind and a good doctor. Practicing good medicine will help you ask the right questions.
ABC NEWS LIVE: What are those valid questions, though? How do I know what to ask?
MR. WILSON: Well, the most important thing is to be honest about what’s bothering you. And one question I encourage doctors to ask their patients and the interns I work with [is] To ask their patients… “Are you lonely?” There is an epidemic of despair in the country now. Death rates are increasing among people ages 35 to 55 who should be living their best lives from alcohol use, drug abuse, and suicide. A lot of that comes down to social isolation, loneliness, [and] Despair, doctors do not address these issues.
ABC NEWS LIVE: You know, people often say, be your own best advocate. You are your own best supporter. right. How will you encourage someone? I think it’s kind of along those same lines as far as honesty.
Wilson: [There are a] Two things you can do. No. 1, you can ask this question: what else could it be? This is a question that a physician would paraphrase. You are my twentieth patient a day. I just need to go out, I’m hungry, etc. This question turned a key in my mind. That would make me say, “Okay, wait, well, yeah, I think I know what’s going on here, but you’re just asking, what else could it be?” And it forces me to step back and rethink what situation could be really valuable information.
The other thing you can do is bring someone with you. It’s the same as if you went to a mechanic or someone else with some kind of experience beyond your level. Having this other person who is just a step outside can lead to some better questions, and I’ve had great interactions with patients where I talk to the patient nodding and yes, I get that. I agree. I understand. And his wife would kind of turn around and say, “You get that? Do you know that? Did you hear what he just said?” And suddenly it became clear? No, you know, the connection wasn’t there. So get a lawyer, bring someone with you and make sure your doctor agrees. Having someone else in the room, it has to be. If not, sometimes you have to find a different doctor.