Scott MacKay: Thank you Dr. Schraeder for being with us today. And full disclosure, Terry Schraeder is a member of our board here at the Public’s Radio. 

Dr. Terry Schraeder: Thanks, Scott, thank you so much for having me. And thanks for reading my book. 

MacKay: This is an important book for both patients and doctors. The experience of seeing a doctor is a universal one. One piece of advice that you have is that patients need doctors who listen to them. What do you mean by that? 

Schraeder: Well, Scott, unfortunately, I think as all of us, not just doctors, are using more and more digital communications, our face to face or our human communication skills are actually diminishing. We are possibly less comfortable with face to face communications. We're not practicing or improving our skills like listening or showing empathy or actually making a connection with the other person. For physicians, that's their patient. Developing a bond and a relationship - and so they can listen to them and so they can take care of them.

MacKay: The introduction of electronic medical records has meant big changes to the doctor-patient relationship. How's the digital age changing things? 

Schraeder: Well, the electronic medical record has brought enormous positive contributions to medicine. We have access, we have efficiency, we have organization of information, like we've never had it before. 

MacKay: True but doctors now are spending more time on their computers than they are face to face with patients.

Schraeder: That's true. And unfortunately, like all new technologies, there's usually a downside. And that's especially true with digital communications. We are more distracted, we are less likely to make eye contact. And again, our human face to face communication skills are diminishing. 

MacKay: Well, how can patients help doctors? Let's say you have an annual physical, something we all try to do. Should you bring a list of things that you want to make your doctor aware of? What kind of advice do you have for patients? 

Schraeder: Absolutely, Scott. I bring a list to my own doctor. So I think it's great to write down not only things you want to tell them, but things you want to ask your doctor. Go ahead and take a little piece of paper out, make some notes to yourself. So when you get in that room, you can remember the things you wanted to talk about. I think that's very important. And I think both for patients and physicians, we need to remember that we're - really - it's a human to human relationship. It is probably one of the most intimate and important relationships and conversations we have. And so both of us need to work on identifying how we can improve it. 

MacKay: One of the things we know as journalists is the danger of misinformation being accepted as fact, on social media. How has social media affected your role as both a provider and as a teacher?

Schraeder: Well, interestingly enough, many physicians - it's over half now - as well as medical institutions, and even publications like the New England Journal of Medicine, they are all using social media. They have a presence in Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And the reason of course they do this is for public access. So the public is aware of them. There's an expectation of social media presence. There's a benefit of social media. The Mayo Clinic, for instance, their division of cardiovascular surgery uses it to help educate patients before they come in and have surgery, even pediatric patients, families, meeting other families seeing what the procedure is. By the time they come in and meet the physician. they feel much more comfortable with what the diagnosis is, and then what the corrective procedure will be. That said, of course, we know that the digital landscape is fraught with misinformation. Things like accuracy, authenticity, validity, references, bibliography - we don't seem to care as much about those. And they seem today harder to find the origin, the source of the information is harder to find and to validate. So I think being aware of that, whether you're a physician or a patient, trying to find out who is giving the information where it comes from, and trying to authenticate it in some ways is very helpful, because people do make medical decisions about what they read online.

MacKay: The author is Dr. Terry Schraeder, a primary care physician who is a clinical associate professor at Brown University's medical school. Dr. Schraeder's new book is entitled "Physician Communication: Connecting with Peers, Patients, and the Public. Thank you very much, Dr. Terry Schrader.

Schraeder: You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Scott.