Let’s Be REaL with Patients

Premier Pulse     July 2021

By Andre Harris, MD, chief medical officer, Atrium Medical Center

The ability of any hospital system to thrive is based on the quality of care provided, the culture of safety engendered with employees, and the focus on the patient experience. As we work in multiple areas throughout the organization on improving patient experience, I want to encourage our physicians through this short communication.

All of the patient surveys focus on answering these three questions about physician care: Did your physician treat you with Respect? Did your physician Explain things in a way you could understand? Did your physician Listen to you? At a basic level, these simple questions are the least we can do as providers. Yet, when the patient list is long, the day has been hectic, and the goal is to get the day completed, we fall back to our training. Medical training is focused on diagnosis and treatment. This is the part of medicine in which physicians excel. We struggle with seeing the whole person in front of us. Mr. James morphs into the bowel obstruction in 2124. Mrs. Williams became the POD No. 2 section in 1004. The challenge for physicians is to re-humanize our patients.

To be REaL with our patients, we must Respect, Explain, and Listen. These simple concepts will not only take our patient experience to extraordinary levels but will sharpen our skillsets as clinicians. We have all heard through the years that she will tell what’s wrong with her if you listen to your patient. Yet too many times, our total comprehension of the patient in front of us gets clouded by busyness.  

Additionally, if our focus is on genuinely explaining the complexities of a diagnosis so the patient can understand - our compliance with care would skyrocket. Every physician has dealt with a patient who does not know why they are taking their medication, let alone understand their diagnosis. The safety and compliance with the care that could come through connecting these dots are limitless.  

Lastly, showing respect should be a foregone conclusion. Yet time after time, patients feel as though they are left out of their health care. The biblical principle of treating others the way you want to be treated rings clear. Our focus, as a minimum, should be to respect our patients. Patients put their lives in our hands. The institution of the doctor/patient relationship demands healthy respect for this lifelong calling. When we focus on being ReAL with patients, it will not just be our patient experience scores that will improve but our care in general.


Back to the July 2021 issue of Premier Pulse

Premier Health Logo