Research note: “for patients will the common cold, physician empathy in just one visit at the beginning is a significant predictor of duration severity and improved immune function” – imagine, empathy can have clinical outcomes!
Another thing I did in preparing for this particular visit and training program was I spoke to the Senior Emergency Physician who is responsible for the department.
“I’ve been discussing this with my surgical residents”, he said, “we know that it’s so important to see the patient immediately as they wake up” (if they’ve been unconscious) – we had been discussing the importance of empathy and how patients crave the attention of their medical professionals.
I knew by talking this manager, that the issues we would face in the emergency department are the central issue of the busy-ness, the need to be ruthlessly efficient, and the problem of forgetting that “it’s their first time” in the emergency department.
“Morale is good” he told me, “the ED staff are feeling good. Service levels are good, but wait times are up slightly. The doctors and nurses have good relationships. What we face though, is that expectations of our patients as they come into this hospital are very high.“
“Our reputation and our pricing service levels are like coming into a five star hotel or a top restaurant. And people have huge expectations that we are going to look after them to a certain standard and make them feel really, really well cared for”.
The patient satisfaction data for this department was generally good. However, a few patients had wondered about the delays in getting them their test results, which is a procedural issue.
Interestingly, I had learned that when you improve procedures in an emergency department or anywhere in the hospital, in fact, you don’t necessarily get an uplift in patient satisfaction!
What you discover when looking into this area, is that how we made the patient feel when they were with us is far more important than whether or not our procedures were efficient, or even that we alleviated their pain or fixed their medical problem. It’s an odd feature of medical health care that how we make people feel matters much more to them than whether or not we make them.
Fred Lee, author on the patient experience, defined Compassion in Health Care as follows:
“”doing something or saying something that shows genuine concern for the patient’s state of mind”Fred Lee
Dynamis provides a comprehensive conflict management training programme which spans the whole spectrum of encounters in a hospital environment. In this series of posts, our Director of Training reflects on key ideas in addressing conflict in the hospital.