Archive for March, 2013

High Physician Satisfaction Equals High Patient Satisfaction: The Winning Strategies of the Organization, Emergency Medicine Physicians

March 22, 2013

EMP

By Edward Leigh, MA

Research has documented that engaged physicians results in engaged patients.  For example, Dr. Jennifer Haas and her research associates found a positive correlation between physician satisfaction and patient satisfaction.  (Dr. Haas and her colleagues work on this subject was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine article, “Is the professional satisfaction of general internists associated with patient satisfaction?”) Emergency Medicine Physicians (EMP), a leading provider of emergency medical services, prove that high physician satisfaction translates into high patient satisfaction.  The EMP website states, “As a new emergency medicine physician, you’ll be welcomed like family. We’ll take you under our wings in the ED, and out on the town when your shift is over. We believe our tight-knit culture creates the best patient care—because when you love what you do, it shows.”  And it does show!

When I first visited the EMP website, I knew in a moment that I had to write an article about this organization!  Based on their outstanding services, EMP has won multiple accolades, including Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work Award, the Press Ganey Summit Award and Smart Business Magazine’s World Class Customer Service Award.

Here are some highlights of what makes EMP an engaging organization for their physicians.

Fun Factor.  Work should be an enjoyable experience.  When looking at their website, it is obvious that this organization clearly understands that having fun is good business. Who wants to work for a dull company?  The website opens with these words, “Enjoy the ride.”  When physicians enjoy the ride so will patients!  The website also has beach photos and humorous videos. The videos include a contest to see which residency program can come up with the most creative video. The organization is like a friendly neighbor welcoming you to their home.

24/7 support from colleagues.  EMP’s supportive culture encourages collaboration in decision making and clinical diagnosis. All physicians have access to run a case by an on-call senior clinical emergency medicine physician 24/7.

Robust education and development. EMP strongly believes in the value of information.  All new physicians travel to the company headquarters and participate in a two-day orientation. Physicians also have the opportunity to participate in EMP’s Patient Satisfaction Academy and Clinical Efficiency Academy.

Work life balance. To help new EMP doctors become acclimated, they design their first year’s schedule.  Even after the first year, EMP accommodates individual needs and requests to create an emergency medicine schedule that works for each person.  EMP understands the important need to maintain a healthy work life balance.

When it’s suits vs. scrubs, scrubs win.  At EMP, doctors thrive in an organization that’s owned and managed by emergency medicine physicians who understand their needs. The focus is on empowerment, not just employment.

Creating an excellent physician experience is an integral part of EMP’s culture.  It is this key component of their culture that drives their excellent patient experiences.

Emergency Medicine Physicians can be reached at 1-800-828-0898 or http://www.emp.com

(I would like to give a special thanks to EMP’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kevin Klauer, for his help in preparing this article.)

*****

Edward Leigh, MA, is the Founder and Director of the Center for Healthcare Communication. The Center focuses on increasing patient satisfaction, improving compliance and decreasing the risk of medical errors. The Center offers high-impact training, consulting and one-on-one coaching. Edward Leigh’s new book, Engaging Your Patients, is due out in the Spring of 2013. http://www.CommunicatingWithPatients.com or 1-800-677-3256

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Opening a Patient Interview: Part II, Your Powerful First Few Questions

March 6, 2013

by Edward Leigh, MA

PatientInterviewExcellentSitting

After you have greeted the patient / guest(s) and introduced yourself, now it is time for your opening questions / statements.

Start with a general question. The literature suggests that even if you know the exact reason for the patient’s visit (e.g., “upset stomach”), it best to still keep the opening question general, such as, “Tell me what brought you here.”  The initially stated chief compliant may not be the underlying reason for the visit.  This is especially true if the underlying reason for the visit is of a sensitive nature (e.g., substance abuse or sexuality issue).

BEFORE asking any details of the first issue, ask the patient, “What else?”  There may be no other issues, however asking this question in the beginning will reveal all the issues to avoid the dreaded late-occurring “Oh by the way” issues.  Excellent article on the subject:

“Two words to improve physician-patient communication: what else?” Link below http://www.meddean.luc.edu/lumen/meded/ipm/IPM1/TwoWordsBarrierArticle.pdf

Example

Clinician: “Tell me what brings you here?”

Patient: “I have been having stomach pains.”

Clinician: “What else?”

Patient: “Well, sometimes, my toes feel numb.”

(If the patient has no other issues, then ask about the stomach pains.)

Too many issues and not enough time. If the patient has multiple issues and there is not sufficient time to discuss everything, this situation has to be handled delicately to retain an excellent patient experience. Do not say, “I don’t have time to discuss all those items.”  Instead, use an “I wish” statement, such as by stating, “I wish we had time to discuss everything that is going on.  How about if we discuss two issues and schedule an appointment to discuss the other items? How does that sound?”

Mute Yourself.  Once you begin the information-gathering phase, DO NOT interrupt. MUTE YOURSELF! Give the patient 1-2 minutes to fully tell you their story and then ask for details. In the classic study by Beckman and Frankel, they found that physicians prevented patients from completing an opening statement 77% of the time and interrupted their patients in a mean time of 18 seconds. (Beckman HB, Frankel RM. The effect of physician behavior on the collection of data. Ann Intern Med. 1984;101:692–6.)

Start your patient interview with impact through the use of powerful questions!

*****

Edward Leigh, MA, is the Founder and Director of the Center for Healthcare Communication. The Center focuses on increasing patient satisfaction and decreasing the risk of medical errors. The Center offers high-impact training, consulting and one-on-one coaching. Edward Leigh’s new book, Engaging Your Patients, is due out in the Spring of 2013. http://www.CommunicatingWithPatients.com or 1-800-677-3256

Opening a Patient Interview: Part I, What to Say BEFORE Your First Medical Question

March 5, 2013

by Edward Leigh, MA

NurseDoor

The first few moments of the patient interview sets the tone for the patient experience — what happens in the first 10-20 seconds makes or breaks the experience.

Sequence of events for seeing a NEW patient: (in chronological order)

(Before you walk in the room, take a deep breath to recharge yourself! One more item, if you just had an onion-filled sandwich, please pop a mint in your mouth!)

Say patient’s name (e.g., “Hello, Mrs. Smith”). If you are unsure of pronunciation — ask FIRST before attempting to state name.  You may also want to check with colleagues about pronunciation before entering the patient’s room.

State your name & role (e.g., “Hello, I am Mary Smith. I will be your nurse.”).  Recent research has shown that patients prefer hearing both the first AND last names of the professional.

Meet the guests.  If possible, ask patient to introduce you so you can learn relationships (e.g., “This is my daughter, Carol.”). Repeat name after meeting (e.g., “Hello Carol, a pleasure to meet you.”). Remind them to feel free to add information and ask questions. It is vital to establish a great relationship with the patent’s guests.

Provide your photo / business card, if applicable. It is important to provide the card at the beginning, otherwise part way through the interview, the patient may state, “So who are you?”  I have seen this happen many times.

Signpost.  This word means to tell people what’s coming next in the interview (i.e., providing direction). Explain to them what will be happening relieves their anxiety. For example, you can say, “Today, we’ll first talk about what brought you in, then I will examine you and discuss treatment options.”

What about the handshake?  There are many opinions on this subject, often divergent. Should you shake the patient’s outstretched hand? Should you initiate the handshaking gesture? Gregory Makoul and his colleagues at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine in Chicago wrote an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine on this subject. Of the patients surveyed, 78.1 per cent wanted physicians to shake their hands. This study seemed to indicate the handshaking is desired among physicians, however it is unclear if this behavior is desired among other healthcare professionals.  I look at this topic on a case by case basis. For example, a handshake would be more of an expected gesture for a middle-aged man as opposed to a teenaged girl. Overall, from a patient experience perspective, I would suggest shaking hands. A physician recently asked me, “I always gel up before seeing each patient. If I see a patient who I suspect has the flu, if they initiate a handshake, what should I do?”  I suggested they shake the patient’s hand and then quickly gel up again. Not shaking an outstretched patient’s hand will severely damage the relationship.

Look for Part II soon … “Your Powerful First Few Questions.”

Edward Leigh, MA, is the Founder and Director of the Center for Healthcare Communication.  The Center focuses on increasing patient satisfaction and decreasing the risk of medical errors. The Center offers high-impact training, consulting and one-on-one coaching. Edward Leigh’s new book is Engaging Your Patients is due out in the Spring of 2013. http://www.CommunicatingWithPatients.com or 1-800-677-3256