Minnesota doctor stresses importance of patient-doctor relationships

A little extra care from your doctor could go a long way in your overall health.  That's what one Minnesota doctor believes, so much so that he wrote a book about it.

For most clinics, the motto is to get the patients in and out, but not at Dr. Scott Jensen’s medical practice.  What better environment to do surgery than MASH 4077? You can even see the IV vodka bottle on one of the walls.  At Jensen's medical practice, every room has a different theme.

But if there's a theme to what happens in these rooms, its strong doctor-patient relationships.

“We need to recognize the value of relationships,” he said.

And weakening relationships are why Dr. Jensen believes the healthcare system is broken, with insurance conglomerates mostly to blame.

“They're taking away trust and advocacy, they're separating the patient and the doctor and saying this is where you'll get your healthcare and this is where you'll get it from,” he said.  “And this is when you'll get it and how you'll get it.”

Jensen believes some of the cure might be in "Relationship Matters," his book of lessons he's learned from patients and people like Chaplain Helmar Heckel, who he met while doing the rounds at a nursing home a few days after a different doctor diagnosed the chaplain with colon cancer.

“I prayed, and said, Lord, I need somebody to come into my life that I can trust,” Heckel said.  “He said ‘I know much about colon cancer. My mother and father died from it.’ Somehow the fact he knew so much about colon cancer gave me confidence.”

That short exchange provided comfort to the chaplain, and a lesson to Jensen.

“I think the lesson for physicians is don't ever stop being open to opportunities to help your fellow man out,” Jensen said.

And that goes back to relationships -- like the human body, the problems in the healthcare industry are complex.  But also like the human body, perhaps a healthy diet of the building blocks can make a difference.

“We're going to build it, we're going to do it based on trust and advocacy,” Jensen said. “The patient's going to trust the doc or get to that point. The doctor's going to advocate for the patient, and the patient should know it, that they have someone at their side. That's what has to happen.”