Excellent physicians develop a relationship with the patient. They engender trust through their approach. The physician-patient relationship is special, because patients come to us in vulnerable situations. They depend on us to make diagnoses and prescribe treatments, but they also depend on us to help them make good decisions about managing their problems.
Dr. Centor encourages attending physicians to discuss beside manner with students everyday because 'connecting with patient produces better patient outcomes.' A physician comments, 'You can be the smartest doc in the word, but if you don't have decent bedside manner, your patients won't get good care, because they won't want to follow your directions and won't want to come in for a follow-up.'
Other industries also struggle with providing good 'customer service.' Executive Director of The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, Julie Rosen says, 'Hospital patients, like airline passengers, often feel shortchanged.' Rosen writes this after learning that Delta airlines announced it was retraining 11,000 ticket agents on customer service skills. Rosen highlights a Schwartz Center poll's findings that 'a significant gap between the care patients expect and the care they receive' exists. She suggests checking out the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's new report for some solutions.
Allergist and Immunologist Sakina Bajowala M.D., who provides care to patients with chronic illnesses like asthma and food allergies says, 'There is no magic pill I can prescribe to cure them ' no miracle treatment. The most important thing I can do is spend the time to teach them about their physiology, how the medicines I am prescribing work, or why I suggest a particular treatment over another.' She draws pictures, demonstrates how to use an inhaler, and reviews action plans with patients in the case of an emergency. She describes her role as an educator as 'rewarding,' and it translates into improvements in health for her patients.
Dr. Robert Centor, M.D. is a general internist who writes on db's Medical Rants. Julie Rosen is the Executive Director of The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and writes on Bedside Manner. Allegist and Immunologist, Dr. Sakina Bajowala, M.D., blogs on Achoo!-Adventures of an Allergist Mommy.
By' Sarah Jorgenson