The relationship between doctors and their patients go beyond just treatment of mental and physical ailment. A good level of trust and confidence is needed for the patient to place his well-being in the hands of his physician. This is why doctors need to establish quality patient care as this assures the patient that his comfort and health are top priorities during treatment.
While patients would obviously benefit from being provided with quality patient care, there are benefits to the doctors as well. As the level of trust increases, the patient will be more compliant with the doctor’s orders as well as communicate more openly, ensuring a smoother treatment experience for both parties. Satisfied patients also tend to stay longer with medical providers whom they trust, and would even recommend their whole family and a lot of their friends.
A doctor can enhance patient care in different ways, and it does not just involve medical skills and technical knowledge. Here are some tips :
1. Avoid Burnout
A person should take care of himself before he can properly take care of others. The same goes with those in the medical filed, perhaps even more so. Because this profession requires its practitioners to give a lot of themselves to their patients, not to mention the long hours and emergency situations faced while on duty, over fatigue and burnout happen faster and more frequently compared to other career.
When this happens, both the doctor and the patient will suffer from repercussions. Communication issues, medical errors, and aggressive behavior may occur, which not only affects the patients’ treatment, but may also cause a breakdown of the doctor-patient relationship.
To prevent these from happening, doctors need to practice self-care and surround themselves with a healthy environment. If the stress is caused by administrative work, it may be a good time to seek help from the organization to establish more efficient processes or to provide manpower support. Doctors should also get support from colleagues and peer groups who can provide counseling when needed.
2. Set Clear Strategies For Improvement
When solving problems, it is always best to identify the root cause first and then come up with a detailed strategy. Direct observation, patient interviews, and patient data are good sources of information from which doctors or healthcare providers can look for areas for improvement in patient care.
After this, doctors can then outline steps that should be taken to ensure that patients receive the quality care that they deserve. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has listed six pillars which mandates that patient care should be safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable. These can be used as a guide when enforcing new policies and procedures to implement change.
3. Make It Accessible
Some healthcare surveys have found that a major reason for patients to avoid or discontinue treatment is the inconvenience. Patients see medical care as having to take time off their busy schedules as they have to specifically set aside the time to set appointments, visit during clinic hours, travel to the clinic or hospital, or comply with the treatment procedures.
Doctors should address these barriers to treatment by making use of available technology and make it easier for patients to get medical attention. For example, instead of having to call the clinic to set an appointment, patients can go online to check for available schedules or book a consultation. There should also be an option to compare locations in case the doctor has affiliations with clinics or hospitals that are closer to the patient’s residence or place of work.
Physician dispensing can also help cut down on the legwork for patient treatment by giving them access to the medicines they need at the point of care. This can also improve compliance while ensuring that they are getting the right medication at the right time.
4. Be A Good Communicator
Patients are not always thorough when it comes to discussing their medical history. Sometimes, they don’t know how to properly express their concerns, while at other times they just cannot pinpoint what the problem is. Thus, there needs to be masterful communication from the part of the doctor to uncover critical information that could affect the treatment.
But the issue is not just on the side of the patients. An effective doctor should have exceptional listening and communication skills as well. Studies have shown that doctors tend to interrupt patients within 12 seconds of discussion, which often disrupts the patient’s thoughts and makes it difficult for them to recall details about their condition.
In some instances, doctors can also get distracted by many other things they have to take note of, and minor details can be overlooked during the consultation. Or they use technical jargon that patients are not able to understand, thus making it difficult for them to comply with the treatment.
Better communication will thus improve patient care in several ways. One is that it ensures that the doctors have a full grasp of the situation before coming up with a treatment plan. Another is that patients will have a better understanding of the required treatment, which will increase compliance. It can also minimize litigation in case of error as patients would be more willing to discuss solutions with doctors that they can talk to.