Alabama Family Physicians Launch New Campaign Highlighting Importance of Doctor-Patient Relationships

Alabama Academy of Family Physicians and Medical Association of the State of Alabama jointly launched a new awareness campaign ⎼ “Your Care is at Our Core” ⎼ to highlight the central role of doctor-patient relationships in health care. 

It comes at a time when Alabamians overwhelmingly echo a collective yearning for health care that is not just technologically advanced but is profoundly human at its heart.

According to a recent statewide survey, 83% of Alabamians agree that “the doctor-patient relationship is central to health care” and that “it is crucial for physicians to be involved in my care so that I have the best outcomes.”

The campaign reinforces the message that a personal connection with a family doctor is paramount. In a world of large health systems and urgent care centers, patients increasingly value having a doctor who knows them and their medical history.  

“I grew up in rural Alabama where our family doctor took care of us, and I was really touched by the way they cared for our family,” said Dr. Tonya Bradley, a primary care doctor in Auburn. “I’m on my third generation of patients now, and it’s a wonderful profession.”

In the health care sector, nostalgia typically comes in the form of longing for a more personalized approach, often associated with the past. Patients historically felt a strong connection with their physicians, often due to the more personalized patient-to-doctor relationships prevalent in those times. This longing for past times, however, hasn’t translated into a barrier hindering the progress of technological advances. In contrast, health care technology has amplified by leaps and bounds over time, offering vast improvements in diagnostic efficiencies, treatment procedures, and overall patient care.

From diagnostic tools like MRI machines, CT scanners and X-ray machines to innovations in surgical tools and techniques, technology has undisputedly given the health care sector a major upgrade. Other forms of health care technology, such as electronic medical records, have improved the ease and speed of sharing and accessing patient data. Telemedicine has enabled virtual visits, allowing patients to consult with their doctors without having to physically go to the doctor’s office, further facilitating access to health care.

But, despite all these technological advancements, there remains the undying need for a trusting doctor-patient relationship. A relationship grounded in trust encourages patients to be more forthcoming about their symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle habits. 

Doctors say a relationship built on trust allows them to better help patients navigate complex health situations. Patients are more likely to share crucial information when they feel connected to their doctor, enabling more tailored and effective treatment plans.

“I tell my patients all the time that I can’t make you well on my own. It’s a team effort that we have to work on together,” said Dr. Brittney Anderson, a Demopolis family physician.

Moreover, strong doctor-patient bonds empower patients and foster their active participation in care. When patients feel heard and valued, they’re more likely to follow medical advice and treatment plans.

“I had someone a few weeks ago who really didn’t want a flu shot, and I talked to him a little bit about it and he said, ‘Well, did you get it?’ and I said ‘yes.’ He said, ‘OK, I’ll get it because I trust you,’” recalled Alabama family physician Dr. Jane Wieda.

By building rapport through communication and empathy, doctors can deliver excellent patient-centered care and uphold the sanctity of doctor-patient relationships as fundamental to quality health care.

“Caring for patients is at our core,” said Dr. Beverly Jordan. “We want to be our patients’ strongest ally.”