Insight - beautiful word that has been used every time with an intention to get a deeper understanding of someone or something. But have you ever had an Insight about INSIGHT?
Insight. The meaning is in the word itself. It suggests looking into something deeply and developing a clear perspective. It is a sense of making connections from the ideas in a topic or situation to the ideas we have in other parts of our life. As we dig deeper, we may connect what we see with what we feel. While doing so, we see that the seemingly uninteresting subject has a world beneath the surface. Willingness to learn and being present with an open mind will help us build an insight. Having an insight helps us determine the motivational forces which otherwise may be alien even to ourselves. This may lead us to the clear and often sudden discernment of a solution to a problem - A brainwave as one may say.
As doctors, one thing that is important for us is being present physically as well mentally which makes the patient feel acknowledged. Quoting the definition of case history “a planned professional conversation that enables the patient to communicate their feelings, symptoms and fears to the clinician so as to obtain an insight into nature of patient’s illness and their attitude towards them”. This clearly states that it is doctor’s responsibility to understand the patient’s perspective. When we are willing to look deeper, it will generate a curiosity to find out more without concluding too soon. While it is very easy for us to reach a conclusion based on the facts given by the patients, an insight will always require rigour and multi- dimensional view (a view involving that of patient, his accompanies and the doctor.) This promotes effective communication while creating a comfortable aura for the patients. Being present and willing to learn is an insightful attitude which will enhance listening performance and the patient satisfaction.
But however important it may seem to have an insightful attitude due to several constraints (lack of time is one of the major constraints) during medical appointments doctors struggle to sustain insightfulness. They assume that allowing the patient to speak for more than a certain time will increase their duration on a single patient. As a result, they interrupt as soon as the patient expresses his first concern completely ignorant of the fact that he may have more than one concerns. This often leads to missing out on significant information by the doctor that the patient is unable to voice. The conclusion is made too soon which may compromise the quality of treatment given by the doctor.
It is therefore important to understand the difference between Insight and Conclusion. When we conclude, we stop looking whereas with insight we make connection based on what we see, hear and feel and continue to look. It helps us expand our understanding of someone or something and be open for further review if needed.
Effective communication is at the root of any successful relationship-- personal and professional. A sense of acknowledgement is what makes the patient vocalise their problems without any hesitation. As a doctor, it is our soul responsibility to make the patient feel heard and understood. Quality of treatment improves only when we listen calmly, analyse correctly and ask the right questions. Remember, to keep looking without conclusions because when we conclude, we stop looking.
Questions to ponder –
1. What is your opinion of having an insight when the patients approach you for consultation?
2. Do you believe that having an open mind helps you diagnose better?
3. What is your approach to patient care? Do you think that if lack of time is not a factor, then you may have a better approach?
4. How can we overcome the challenge of time constraint?
Name: Aditi Sharma
College: ITS Dental College, Greater Noida.