Ensuring that dignity, compassion & respect are at the heart of experience

After having discussed about the importance of patient experience management, the next important part of PEM is treating patients with compassion, dignity and respect. It is very essential that these aspects are highlighted and placed at the top of healthcare agenda. Many youngsters chose a career in healthcare department because they wish to serve people. But as time goes by due to hectic life-style, work pressure, lack of time and overexposed demands of too many patients they are unable to behave sympathetically or even spend time with their patients, which ultimately results in “compassion fatigue” services. Showing compassion means dealing with patients in a way that shows patients that doctor and nurse understands what the patient is going through.

A positive patient experience cannot be given without compassionate care. Sometime nurses and doctors are so reluctant that dignity and respect is nowhere in their behavior, to the more they don’t even give time to patients to explain why they are here. Patients usually expect a trusting, therapeutic and patient centered relationship. The perspective of compassion, dignity and respect may differ in each healthcare organization and according to the changing healthcare priorities. Compassionate service helps patients to feel comfortable, valued and in-control. It includes proper communication, reassurance, professionalism, friendliness and appropriate sense of humor. Patients felt comfortable and valued when they were treated compassionately with respect and dignity and when the staffs are courteous, helpful and considerate. Studies show that patients who are treated with respect and dignity exhibit satisfaction about their overall hospital experience.

While talking about dignity, it can be classified into 2 types – Human dignity and social dignity. Human dignity is one that everyone possesses just by the virtue of being human and social dignity is the one that society gives an individual. While dealing with a patient healthcare professional should remember human dignity and be careful about how their interaction affects a person social dignity. Protecting the privacy of a patient also helps to promote dignity.

In order to give excellent patient experience it is not necessary that expensive treatment or special private rooms must be provided. Patients only expect compassionate service and little respect and dignity from the hospital staffs. Many healthcare professionals might think that spending time with patients, talking to them, listening to them, involving them in decisions about their health, being polite and being there through tough times are ways to get the little things right but an experience medical professional will know that these are very big things that makes a significant difference while dealing with patients. Success is not only about clinical outcome but it is about patient experience as well.

Training of every member of healthcare team

There is something truly rewarding about being in a profession that strives to serve people. This is what the healthcare industry is all about. But today’s busy and demanding situation has created a major setback in the way doctor’s deal with their patients. There is a huge gap between doctor-patient relations, which is depriving patients from good positive experience. But this gap can be effectively cemented by providing training to young healthcare professionals. Healthcare staffs are in a very responsible profession that requires extensive training in the technical side as well as customer service skill. To make sure that patients receive the best treatment and care while their stay in the hospital healthcare professionals should be trained in 3 very important field of work

  • Technical training
  • Patient relation training
  • Colleague relation training

Technical training

Although healthcare professionals undergo extensive schooling and academic coaching during their course of study, the best experience and training is received only while working hands-on with other senior colleagues and while dealing with patients. Technical training will help healthcare professionals to be trained in every aspect of patient care, handling routine procedures and taking care of regular doctor follow-ups. This will help every member of the healthcare team to assimilate and take on their duties more efficiently, leaving less room for human error.

Patient relation training

Patient and healthcare staff relation is much learnt during clinical practices than in a class-room. There is no limitation in learning about patient care management and way to deal with patients. Healthcare staffs will be trained about being compassionate, polite, calm, responsive to patients needs, never ignoring any patient, treat everyone with respect and dignity, no stigmatizing patients based on their financial, ethnic, race or religious status. Being compassionate with a patient who is already sick, worried and in deep pain will help the patient to have a positive approach towards his own needs. Healthcare professional should realize that every need of patient is their responsibility and respond sensibly and effectively to their needs. Another valuable skill is learning how to appease the patient’s family and ease their tension. Patient care is one of the main priorities of healthcare industry. Reports shows that patients who receive good care and service have better clinical outcome and high level of satisfaction. Every department and every person in healthcare industry should be trained in providing good patient experience by delivering superior customer services. In a nutshell, training should teach every member of the healthcare team, from doctor to a ward boy, to provide a stress-free environment and excellent patient experience.

Colleague relation training

In every field of work relation with fellow employees is very vital one. It can hinder or enhance the working environment depending on how positively healthy the relation is. Training should also teach every member their job specifications and their hierarchical level. Showing a matured and understanding behavior with fellow-workers will have a positive outcome and help share work among themselves. There should be no guess work in healthcare services, for instance, reluctantly leaving a patient believing that the other colleague might have taken care and finally discovering that nobody has attended him/her might lead to unexpected consequences. Maintaining a good rapport with colleague will help the staffs in delivering and patients in receiving good care.

Basic etiquettes for healthcare professionals

Healthcare industry is a business that is changing rapidly every day. Customer service in healthcare center faces major challenges in providing first rate healthcare services and excellent patient experience. Challenges that gain importance include – sticking to schedules, maintaining patient confidentiality and to provide consistent standard service. Customer service in healthcare sector is unlike the one provided in non-healthcare sector, as healthcare deals with stressful patients and their families. To handle such situations healthcare professionals should know the basic etiquettes in dealing with other people. Etiquette means the code of ethical behavior among members of a profession in dealing with each other and with their customers. Basic etiquette requires a healthcare professional to

  • Know who customers are and what they want?
  • Deliver exceptional customer/patient service
  • Know what difference an excellent customer service can bring
  • Understand how his/her behavior impacts the patient’s behavior
  • Find out the barriers for effective customer service
  • Adapt oneself to various customer behavior style
  • Learn how to be a more confident and be a problem solver
  • Know how to measure customer satisfaction level and to take action if needed
  • Learn to deal with upset or angry customers
  • Develop one’s own action plan to improve customer service skills
  • Have effective and assertive communication
  • Involve the entire team in customer service

Considering patient as individuals and not as medical cases

Not quite long ago when healthcare industry was not so advanced doctors had nothing to offer to people other than compassion, time, comfort and attention. But now healthcare industry is plunged into an era of modernization with everything being computerized. Amazing advancement has been made in the field of diagnosis and treatment of many deadly diseases. Patients feel that these changes have for sure increased the life span of a person but unfortunately, these amazing advancements have also resulted in depersonalization of patient care. Doctors and other healthcare staffs are often seen referring to a patient by number or disease – kidney failure in room 276, the gallbladder in 597, which is truly an unprofessional and demoralizing behavior.

Due to hectic schedules and over demanding work pressure healthcare staffs forget the fact that patients are living individual, who are sick or very ill and are waiting for the healthcare team to support and guide them through their medical care. Doctors sometime don’t even bother to spend 10 minutes with the patients; they will be listening to the patient either buried in the patient’s record or with a hand on the door knob, which shows their lack of interest in patient care. This is where the importance of “art of patient care” comes. An experienced healthcare professional knows what is right and wrong in patient care. They understand that every patient is different and requires different patient care. They also understand the importance of treating patients as a lively individual rather than treating them as a symptom or case. Healthcare staffs should understand that effective clinical competence is actually a blend of intelligent application of medical science and recognizing and understanding human conditions.

Ensuring compassion at the point of care