High-tech communication tool helps patients’ understanding

Benjamin J. Steinberg D.O. found when explaining complicated surgical procedures of gynecological problems to his patients that words weren’t enough – especially for patients who might not be proficient in English or have a great understanding of the body’s structures. So Dr. Steinberg turned to a new tool – interactive computer animation -- for help communicating complex diagnosis and anatomy.

Dr. Steinberg, the only fellowship trained urogynecologist and female reconstructive surgeon in the Central Valley, says such technology is key to effective doctor-patient communication.  “I use a 42-inch HD TV to display an interactive software system illustrating a patient's individual physical examination and anatomy,” said Steinberg, showing off the flat screen in his office on the Community Regional Medical Center campus. “Educating patients is an essential part of my practice.”

The quality of care patients receive may depend directly on how well the physician and patient exchange information, Dr. Steinberg explained: “Good doctor-patient communication is essential to better health outcomes. By using this visual technological system, patients obtain a better understanding of their own anatomy and have a thorough comprehension of their treatment options, especially with any planned surgical procedures. We also get higher compliance to therapeutic regimens.”

Dr. Steinberg, who practices with Urology Associates of Central California, said while technology helps communication there are other elements he employs to make sure patients are listening and also fully sharing their health issues with him. “If you genuinely care about a patient and include them in the decision making process, it is only natural that a doctor-patient connection will occur,” he said. 

“This enables a physician to develop a good rapport with patients which is vital in any patient-physician relationship.”

Shannon Merritt reported this story. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@CommunityMedical.org.