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Explain it Better

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Three years ago, I wrote this #HealthXPH prechat blog post, What do physicians need to explain better to patients? I’m moderating the #HealthXPH tweet chat again later tonight, 18 June 9 pm Manila time. I thought I’d bring back this topic. It’s even more timely now given the COVID-19 pandemic and the infodemic.

T1. What concept or idea do physicians need to explain better to patients?

Endocrinology is a difficult specialty to explain. While the public understands hormones, it’s often this vague concept of something in the blood that makes someone feel out of whack. When asked what an endocrinologist does, I often say, we see persons with diabetes or goiter. Sometimes, I’ll get a follow up question, so diabetes is hormonal? I thought it’s about blood sugar.

In my 2019 blog post, I referenced a post by Sachin Jain. He wrote about 6 ideas that physicians need to explain better to patients. These are –

  1. Correlation does not equal causation.
  2. Natural isn’t better or worse than chemical.
  3. Doing nothing is sometimes better than doing something.
  4. Potency is drug-specific.
  5. Splitting doses won’t make the drugs last longer.
  6. Generic doesn’t equal worse.

For T2, I will ask the tweeps to pick one of these six and explain as their answer to T2.

T2. Try to explain in a tweet, a concept or idea that physicians need to explain better to patients. If you’re a patient, tweet us a medical concept or term you found hard to understand when explained by your doctor.

The thyroid is another organ whose function can be challenging to explain. What are thyroid hormones, T4, T3, and why can a lack of them make a patient feel lethargic. Elsewhere, I’ve seen the thyroid gland referred to as the machine of the car and the thyroid hormones the gas. Too much gas can make the machine go too fast, as in hyperthyroidism. No gas means the car won’t run, hence hypothyroidism.

T3. What analogies do you use when explaining medical concepts to patients? If you’re a patient, tweet us an analogy that worked for you!

See you later at #HealthXPH! I’m feeling sentimental about #HealthXPH recently, since we got this certificate of appreciation from the DOST Philippine Council for Health Research & Development.

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