How can skin cancer care providers work to empower their patients? Expert Dr. Silvina Pugliese from Stanford Cancer Center discusses her approach to patient empowerment, healthcare professionals she partners with, and methods to help enable informed patient decisions.
I do think it is a great honor to care for patients, and I do think of it as my duty to empower patients or the way I think about it, to inform patients and allow them to come to their own conclusions and decisions based on the information that I provide. So the ways that I go about doing this are, first, I think it’s really important to establish a relationship with patients. I don’t have the fastest clinic visits, but I know a lot about my patients and they know a lot about me, and I do think that that relationship is a really important foundation for the trust that is needed in order to have a very secure patient-and-doctor relationship.
As part of that, I do listen to what patient concerns are, because I think that if we don’t identify what patients are fearful of, what they actually are very comfortable doing, if we don’t hear what their concerns are with certain treatments, then I think all the education that we do is really not going to be helpful if it doesn’t align with the patient’s treatment wishes and desires and what they’re comfortable doing. And then I provide information. So basically I will provide as much information as I have and know and always connect patients with someone who knows more than I do in their particular area of concern and who can provide information beyond what I know for certain situations. So often I will partner with other dermatologists, surgical dermatology, oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, surgical oncology, just to make sure that I have resources available for patients when they are making a decision.
So by doing those different things, I hope that I’m empowering my patients to feel better about their medical care, to feel like they are receiving the best medical care and to feel comfortable in making some really difficult decisions. It is important for me to do again, because I think that is my job, it’s my duty, I don’t take it for granted. And I think that it is the least that we can do when we’re being really entrusted with some very like vulnerable and personal information that patients are providing to us.