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Elevating Physician-Patient Relationships in the Shadow of Metric Mania


Today, medical and health institutions devote significant time and resources to documenting, measuring, and reporting various metrics. These metrics are used to improve various aspects of care, from efficiency and quality to safety and access. Unfortunately, too often, medical and health institutions overemphasize metrics that are easily captured but too simplistic. As a result, insufficient attention is devoted to crucial, albeit complex and difficult to measure, facets of care. Physician-patient relationships are among the primary casualties resulting from the widespread penchant for overly simplistic metrics. This Article develops a strategy for improving such relationships. I suggest that enhancing physicians’ interpersonal skills can improve physician-patient rapport and mitigate the negative consequences resulting from placing too much weight on simplistic metrics. The strategy provided here is not a panacea for the broader problems posed by overemphasizing certain metrics. But, this Article can inform a larger project aimed at becoming wiser about how data and metrics are used in all aspects of medicine and health care.