As someone whose every day vocabulary includes the words “patient experience,” it has been eye-opening to watch a friend of mine navigate the healthcare system and see first-hand what his experiences have been like in, what he would call, a very intimidating and unfamiliar landscape.
A recent study conducted by TechnologyAdvice, revealed that a large majority of patients are not comfortable or trusting of diagnoses made during virtual doctor visits. Out of 504 respondents, 56 percent of patients said they would be “uncomfortable” visiting with their doctor over a video visit, and 75 percent concluded they would not trust their doctor’s diagnoses compared to one given during an office visit.
According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), 90 million people are currently living with serious illnesses nationwide and, of that population, six million people could benefit from palliative care.
Understanding and communicating about risk is notoriously hard. Most of us aren’t statisticians, and even if we were, we’d be human statisticians. We’re all subject to subtle cognitive biases that influence our judgment, along with all the emotions that accompany a health condition or procedure.
When a woman is pregnant there are so many things to think about and decisions to make (from baby names to prenatal genetic testing). One decision some families ponder is whether or not banking cord blood is right for them.
Making a personal connection to the patient right from the start can engage them and set the tone for their entire experience. But there’s a better way than simply asking a patient, “How are you?” When you step back to think about it, is it any wonder people often reply, “How do you think I am? I’m lying in a hospital bed.”
How can we ask a more personal question and make a better connection? Look for “cues and clues.” Are there flowers in the room? If yes, say “Who sent you the lovely flowers?” Is there a card on the bedside stand or in the window sill? Who sent it? Is there a photograph in the room? What are they watching on TV? Noticing anything new can spark a conversation and gives them a chance to talk about the people and things that matter to them.
Next time you return to their room, if there doesn’t seem to be anything new to ask about – was there a person at the bedside to ask about? Or, if a patient looks concerned: “You seem worried, what’s on your mind?”
This method of “asking with skilled inquiry” with open-ended questions gives the patient an opportunity tell their story. It’s an invitation to open up.
At Northside Hospital, HCA West Florida Division, every meeting and huddle is opened with what we call a “Mission Moment.” This creates an opportunity for everyone to tell these stories, gives everyone a chance to recognize how we feel connected to the patients, and to feel good about the work we do. This also creates a better experience and more of a connection for the caregivers. It’s easier and more meaningful to care for people we feel connected to.
Recently, I was rounding and saw one of our patients and his wife was sitting on the bed. I walked in and introduced myself and he asked me, “Why is it YOU people always ask the same questions over and over? Don’t you talk to each other?” I explained we ask the same questions because we want to make sure patients tell us as much about their history as they can. Then I asked, “Who is this lovely lady?” A big grin came across his face and he said, “This is my wife of 46 years.” His perspective shifted from being annoyed to being cared about and having a chance to talk about someone who matters to him.
Chronic health conditions can be difficult to manage on both the provider and the patient side. It depends a great deal on having the patient “buy into” the treatment – and really, even the diagnosis. So how do you do that?
When describing the most imminent challenge facing the healthcare industry, little needs to be said except “value-based reimbursement.” On the surface, it’s an incremental adjustment to payment models; realistically, it involves much more than finances. Value-based reimbursement requires an almost complete overhaul of the way in which care is thought of and provided – and healthcare organizations are beginning to feel the pressure.
Only 12% of American adults have proficient health literacy – meaning the overwhelming majority of patients treated are innately at-risk for complication because they lack basic understanding of their care and how it should be managed.
And when you consider this, it’s not shocking to see the results of a recent Gallup report that shows pre-surgical education drastically impacts post-surgery outcomes. But what is shocking is that, despite our knowledge of our low national health literacy, proper pre-surgical education is still greatly lacking.
Originally published for the Association of Patient Experience
Touch is comforting and reassuring. In some settings it’s been shown to reduce patient anxiety and length of stay.* Yet, a strange thing happens when someone in your family is in a hospital bed. Once there, attached to machines and IV lines, despite wanting to comfort and reassure them, they seem physically out of bounds. It often seems like a hand on their shoulder or holding their hand is the only safe contact.
Despite growing up spending a lot of time in hospitals rounding with my dad, when he was the one in the hospital, I was surprised how awkward it seemed to touch him in any way.