Putting Patients First

Written by on June 30, 2017 in Practice tips - No comments

Think Before You Speak

Being an “Undercover Patient” can certainly shed some light on the true patient experience. With each assessment, I enjoy discovering the good, by finding out what is working well. And in other areas, adding some polish where it is needed. Sometimes when I am contacted, leadership may be anxious to “clue me in” on certain personality types. However, I ask that they hold off until after my assessment. You see, it’s important my experience is that of a true patient. That’s how we learn.

I understand that we all know a few “characters” who do not always put patients first. It’s always important to make sure that these “characters” are not in direct contact with the patients. They may be very suitable in a behind the scenes role as support staff. Like a puzzle, it’s always interesting to fit those pieces together.

I’ve witnessed a few healthcare professionals that should really LISTEN more and SPEAK less. Let me explain with the following examples:

Appointment Scheduler for a Physician’s Practice:

Me: “I need to reschedule my appointment. We have had a death in the family.”

Appointment scheduler: “When do you want to schedule it?”

Patient-centered Alternative: ”I am so sorry, I know you have a lot going on right now, do you need to call us back or did you want to reschedule it now?”

Receptionist for a Physician’s Practice:

Upon entering a physician’s practice, preparing to checkin, I witnessed three staff members enjoying a conversation with each other. They were all smiles and it was great to see that they got along so well. When they realized a patient had walked up to be checked in, their smiles were instantly replaced with “shucks, back to work” expressions on their faces. In fact, one left the area completely, one looked down at what seemed to be an urgent issue all of a sudden. The other one, I guess, was given the task to check me in and I obviously was NOT a welcomed part of their conversation.

Patient-centered Alternative: “Good morning! What is your name please? OK, I have your information right here. Let’s review a few things to get you ready to see the doctor today.

Clinical Assistant:

Clinical Assistant: “Well good morning, how are you today?”

(With that, I am thinking we are off to a great start. I begin to explain the reason for my being there…)

Me: “Well, I have been better. Yesterday, I awoke to a scratchy throat and today it is much worse!”

(It must be contagious because she picks it right up and adds to the conversation which goes like this)

Clinical Assistant: “Oh my, the very same thing happened to me last weekend and then I got this horrible cough. My daughter got it after I did and I feel like it’s coming back on me again. We’re just passing it around! OK, I’ll let the doctor know and she’ll be with you in a few minutes.”

Patient-centered Alternative: “I am so sorry! You are certainly in the right place and hopefully, you will feel better very soon. Now, let’s check that blood pressure and temp so we can get the doctor in here and get you on the path to feeling better!”

Home Health Caregiver: Upon arrival to the patient’s home

Caregiver: “I am EXHAUSTED! I have this patient who demands so much of my time. I have to feed her, she wants me to brush her hair while I’m there and then fix her lunch. You guys are so low maintenance, I couldn’t wait to get here! Whew! I just need to sit down a few minutes!”

Patient-centered Alternative: “Good afternoon, I am so happy to see you all! I was thinking on my way over here just how happy I would be when I saw your smiling face. You are truly a treasure.

Our thoughts and our words set the tone for the entire day. When we look for the good, we will discover it. We can choose positive words which help to lead to a more positive day for your patients and everyone around you.

Even when we see it through the eyes of humor, sometimes it’s fun to look for the positive. We have that choice. Recently, I have been told by leadership in several hospitals and physician practices that they open training sessions and staff meetings with YouTube videos of my alter ego, “Gladys Friday” Healthcare Comedian. She helps to address some difficult issues in healthcare. These videos add some healthcare humor, opening the door to brainstorming, inviting the opinions of others to share in just how we can “Shine Brighter.”

It’s simple. When we are in healthcare, if we do not care….we should work elsewhere.

CARE” to me means
Respect for

By Denise Price Thomas
Owner, DPT Consulting & Training
Speaker, Author & Healthcare Humorist

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