To find out which companies are mentioned in the  PV Quarterly go to PatientView’s blog

A 400-page report, What do patients think of doctors?, published in early-March 2011 by UK research organisation PatientView, finds that patient groups in many countries believe pharma and medical device companies have a role to play in improving doctor-patient relationships. In the global survey of 2,500 groups although only 29% believe pharma have a role to play in improving doctor-patient relationships, over half of the groups surveyed in Canada, Eastern Europe, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the USA consider that pharma initiatives have the ability to help improve doctor-patient relations. Patient groups from across the world representing the interests of patients with neurological conditions, Parkinson’s disease, respiratory conditions, and rheumatological conditions agree. The countries in which a significant majority of patient groups do not think that pharma has a role to play in helping to improve doctor-patient relations are Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. In the case of disease areas, most groups specialising in heart and circulatory conditions, or in gastrointestinal conditions, are opposed to pharma playing a role. The report contains examples of corporate best practice in the subject area of helping to improve doctor-patient relations, categorised for 12 countries/regions, and for 12 conditions. 70 companies are named at least once

Poor doctor-patient relationships: What do patients think of doctors? focuses on patient groups’ views of the current state of doctor-patient relationships, and looks at how they can be improved. The report finds that less than a third of groups representing patients believe GPs and consultants remain traditional and patriarchal in their attitudes to patients. On the other hand, only 15% of groups believe that doctors treat patients as equals (and act on that belief)—the rest of the patient groups believe that the situation varies from doctor to doctor, or that doctors may intend to take a partnering role, but fail to live up to it. Relationships between doctors and patients are undoubtedly in need of considerable improvement, especially in some of the less well-performing countries [see figures in sample pages at weblink]. The state of doctor-patient relations has an important bearing on how well patients respond to treatment. In the report, patient groups are quoted as saying that poor doctor-patient relationships prevent patients from coming forward for medical treatment and care—even when treatment and care is needed.

Why industry matters: Many of the comments offered to the survey by the 2,500 respondent patient groups emphasise their understanding that pharma and medical device companies are closely linked to the doctorpatient relationship—whether through access, or through the provision of after-prescription support, information, medicines, services and technology. Pharma’s capacity to influence doctor-patient relationships for the better is the reason why patient groups do support greater pharma involvement. A minority of groups believe that pharma’s vested interests should prevent the industry from getting involved in helping to improve doctor-patient relations.

 Positive case studies of what industry has done to support doctor-patient relations:

Some 70 healthcare companies from around the world are named by the respondent patient groups as having had a positive impact upon doctor-patient relations. The groups provide many examples of the types of activities and strategies that the companies have brought to bear to effect positive change, including:

● Programmes that generally emphasise the importance of improving doctor-patient relations. ● Conducting research. ● Producing new technologies to help patient engagement. ● Monitoring the performance of products used by patients. ● Encouraging greater patient participation in the doctor-patient relationship. ● Training and educating health professionals in the patient perspective. ● Training and educating patients in how to better engage with the healthcare system. ● Providing information to patients to enable better engagement with the healthcare system. ● Providing information to patients that can enable better self-management. ● Providing information to doctors, so that they can better understand and talk to patients. ● Supporting patient groups. ● Providing compassionate access to medicines. ● Gathering data on patient perspectives. ● Providing materials to support patients in areas other than medical treatment and care. ● Raising awareness of specific patient problems (such as stigma). ● Supporting integrated care. ● Running patient-partner programmes that gather all stakeholders together.

About the survey:  What do patients think of doctors? is based on the results of a November 2010 PatientView survey of 2,500 patient groups from around the world. The survey asked the respondent groups what they think of current doctor-patient relationships, and how they believe those relationships might be improved. The report covers most subject areas in which patients would like doctor-patient relations to be improved, including: l Access to health professionals l Access and choice during diagnosis and treatment l Patient information provided by health professionals l Doctor-patient communication l Gaining patient trust l Respecting patients’ valuable time l Accountability of health professionals l Improving prevention practices l Which single action do patients want from government and payers to improve doctor-patient relationships? l Which pharmaceutical companies are having a positive effect on doctor-patient relationships? l Why pharma can have a negative impact on doctor-patient relationships. The report analyses doctor-patient relations in 11 countries and one region of the world: Australia [number of completed responses = 60]; Canada [138]; Eastern Europe [105]; France [80]; Germany [100]; Italy [110]; the Netherlands [30]; New Zealand [55]; Spain [80]; Sweden [56]; the UK [566]; and the USA [292]. Doctor-patient relations are also analysed for the following 12 specialties: cancer [160]; diabetes [55]; gastro-intestinal [40]; heart and circulatory conditions [70]; HIV/AIDS [72]; mental health [170]; multiple sclerosis [35]; neurological [195]; Parkinson’s disease [30]; rare diseases [70]; respiratory [35]; and rheumatological conditions [55].