Patients increasingly see themselves as consumers of health care and look to their physician for better, more efficient, and more effective service, according to a report released by Johns Hopkins University and American Healthways.

Defining the Patient-Physician Relationship for the 21st Century suggests that one way to improve the office experience is to communicate better with patients about preauthorizations, referrals, and refills. For example: 

  • When a patient’s health plan requires preauthorizations and/or referrals, the physician or staff should help the patient understand both the process and the origin of the mandate. Otherwise, the patient likely will perceive these systems as barriers to care.
  • Physicians should work with patients to arrange a reasonable and flexible medication refill system. Patients, especially those with well-maintained chronic conditions who require ongoing medication, often find the system unduly burdensome. Doctors should explain to their patients why regular, face-to-face medication reviews are important and work out a flexible system that balances convenience with quality of care.

If you need help accessing the report, contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 or

Content reviewed: 3/14/2007

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