How often have you had a patient that you feel extreme sympathy for, you know is wasting your time, or you simply would like to strangle? Nearly every patient in a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office fits this criteria. The important thing is how you control yourself and react to every patient and his or her needs. The facility, the department, your staff, and yourself are all reflected on how you deal with every single patient and ultimately, how it's perceived that they're being treated.
There are many ways to quantify a patient's perception of how they were treated during their stay but perhaps the largest context in which patient satisfaction is currently measured involves hospitals using patient surveys to assess and improve their "hotel-motel" functions and do a better service job to maintain a competitive posture in their markets. The hospital industry's leading independent vendor of patient satisfaction measurement and improvement services - Press Ganey Associates, headquartered in South Bend, Indiana - specializes in producing tested and reliable surveys and national comparative databases. The firm's clients include 40 percent of the nation's acute care hospitals with over 100 beds and 30 percent of those with fewer than 100 beds.
Press Ganey uses patient discharge information to select a sample of recipients who receive mailed satisfaction surveys. Press Ganey's core surveys were designed by focus groups of industry experts who developed lists of topics important to various aspects of health care, which were then tested and refined in test surveys. The company currently offers 35 surveys designed for various health care contexts, including general inpatient, pediatrics, emergency department, outpatient medical practice, ambulatory care, behavioral care, long term care and home health care. The majority of surveys use a five-point scale of responses ranging from "very poor" to "very good."
Whether a patient marks their experience as a "very poor" or a "very good" may very well depend on the amount of compassion that the patient feels they have received. Research evidence suggests that compassion affects the effectiveness of treatment. For example, patients who are treated by a compassionate caregiver tend to share more information about their symptoms and concerns, which in turn yields more accurate understanding and diagnoses. In addition, since anxiety and fear delay healing and compassionate behavior reduces patient anxiety, it seems likely that compassionate care can have positive effects on patients’ rate of recovery and ability to heal.
As far as I'm concerned, the accuracy and expediency involved in getting a patient healed and back to a normal life is the absolute most important thing in the healthcare field. Nothing should take precedence over the patient's safety and recovery. While these are the most important things to focus on with a patient, sometimes it's easy to overlook how a patient feels when they are in a healthcare setting. It's extremely important to constantly remind the patient that you are there for them, that you understand what they are going through, and that you are doing everything you can to make their visit quick, accurate, and comfortable.
None of this is very difficult to do. We all learned in elementary school to treat everyone else the way you would like to be treated yourself, and every healthcare professional has taken a patient safety course in which you learn that every patient shall be treated equally. However, a lot of medical professionals get very comfortable with their jobs and begin focusing on other things rather than the patient. This happens to everybody but the important thing, once again, is how you react to it. Make sure when this happens to you to remember that the patient you are taking care of could possibly be somebody's grandparent, and to treat them with the kindness and respect that they deserve.
Curtis Carpenter is the founder and president of Reliable Radiography, based in Vero Beach, FL
Visit the blog at reliableradiography.blogspot.com