How U of Maryland Medical Center is boosting HCAHP scores

They don't teach empathy in medical school. A physician's bedside manner evolves through experience and is inspired by one's personal ability — and desire — to read a patient's emotional cues. Some have a knack for it; others focus on the medicine without an interest in connecting on a personal level with patients. 

Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical Center decided to give clinicians a helping hand to connect with patients by launching "Get to Know Me" boards, an initiative that allows patients to share information about their "likes, interests and family, along with how [physicians] can best care for them, before you see them," Giora Netzer, MD, vice president and chief experience officer at the Univeristy of Maryland Medical System and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told Becker's.

Since launch, UMMC's downtown Baltimore 800-bed campus has reported a "substantial increase in HCAHPS scores," he said, which makes sense as physician empathy is tied to patient satisfaction and outcomes. 

"When a physician is empathetic, patients offer more detailed histories and they are more adherent with treatment plans," according to a 2021 Physician's Weekly article that noted "there are benefits for the physicians themselves, as well."

Patients are "less likely to sue for malpractice" when they are dealing with an empathetic physician and the clinicians themselves enjoy a better sense of well-being and job satisfaction.

"In addition to creating a stronger connection with your patients, this program has been shown to improve patient satisfaction scores, and patients report feeling better cared for," Dr. Netzer said, noting the program is being rolled out to the healthcare system's other hospitals. 

Patients are asked to fill out a short questionnaire with information that will be included in their electronic patient record.

"It only takes a few minutes to view a patient's GTKM information," Dr. Netzer said, "and that time that can make all the difference in your providing patient-centered care with a personal touch that patients will remember." 

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