Modern Aesthetics® magazine Co-Chief Medical Editors Steven Dayan, MD and Heidi Waldorf, MD discussed strategies for effectively communicating with patients.

Dr. Dayan explains that the key to communication with patients is simply to listen. “I've recognized over the years if I say nothing, I almost always get to what's really bothering them…the more I listen, and listen and ask questions, I figure out exactly what they're looking to achieve and then I'm able to better diagnose and treat them,” he says.

Dr. Waldorf agrees that listening is key. “You have to know your patient and identify your patient in terms of what they want and also what they're willing to do,” she says, adding that her approach to patients involves listening to what they want to fix, then focusing on educating them about what can help them, and then assessing what they can have done based on their budget.

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Physicians are recommending that policymakers ease regulations to allow for EHRs to become more usable, according to the AMA. An AMA-RAND study released in 2013 cited EHRs as a major source of dissatisfaction for physicians. The report found that physicians want to embrace technology, but they're frustrated that regulatory requirements are forcing them to do clerical work and distracting them from paying close attention to their patients.

In a new policy approved at the American Medical Association's (AMA) Interim Meeting, physicians continued to call for penalties to be halted in the Meaningful Use program. Physicians feel that full interoperability, which is not widely available today, is necessary to achieve the goals of electronic health records (EHRs)—to facilitate coordination, increase efficiency and help improve the quality of care.

This comes on the heels of the recent release of new attestation numbers showing only two percent of physicians have demonstrated Stage 2 Meaningful Use. In response to the new figure, the AMA joined with other health care leaders to urge policymakers to fix the Meaningful Use program by adding more flexibility and shortening the reporting period to help physicians avoid penalties. Although there are some systems on the market that are capable of interoperability, when data is transferred it is not always incorporated into the receiver's EHR in a digestible way, making it difficult to act on and defeating the purpose of sharing. Additionally, interoperability often comes at a price, which further hinders its use.

By working toward delivery systems that support physician success, the AMA says it strives to enhance patient care, make delivery more efficient and reduce unnecessary costs or burdens through its Physician Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability strategic focus area.