5 ways physicians can improve the patient experience

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Patient satisfaction is hugely dependent on the degree to which patients and families feel their physicians listened to them and picked up on their needs. According to the American Medical Association, there are a number of tips providers should keep in mind to ensure patients "feel" they're being heard while receiving care.

The following five recommendations can help improve patient interactions and patients' engagement in and satisfaction with the care they receive, according to the AMA:

  1. Although at the beginning of a hospital visit or clinic appointment it is critical to collect patient information and fill out records or charts, taking a moment to set aside the quantitative data gathering and focusing on asking how the patient is doing, establishing a rapport and communicating the proper physical and verbal cues to the patient that their physician is present and concerned helps build a strong foundation for satisfaction.
  2. Sometimes, patients may want to share their feelings but will hide them, or use certain language to test the waters with their providers. Watching for slight facial expressions or subtle changes in body language can be the clues that, when picked up on, lead to greater understanding.
  3. Noticing a patient's tone is also key. Certain patients may need more reassurance than others from their physician. Where one patient is deeply concerned with safety or security, another might value integrity and honesty in a provider above all else. Paying close attention to tone of voice and mood can help ensure the patient is getting what they feel they need.
  4. Remain present by being mindful to not interrupt patients, or take over their narrative for them. It's difficult to hold back and not fill a pause or silence by supplying patients with a response or information about their concerns. But learning to nod one's head in understanding, or responding to a long pause with a short verbal affirmation, such as "I understand," or "that makes sense," can convey to a patient their physician isn't talking down to them or in rush to complete the visit.
  5. To the degree that it's possible, read a patient's emotions to determine how the visit should shift or progress. This will make the interaction feel more natural, and the patient will feel they are playing an important role in their visit.   

More articles on patient satisfaction:
Helping the helpers: Support for caregivers gives health systems competitive advantage
Patient satisfaction: Good medicine and good business
New York-Presbyterian experiments with 'air traffic control' in ER

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