So, You Want Informed Patients? Start With Physician Involvement

The demands of the health care industry have caused the patient experience to deteriorate over the past few years but the tides are turning and the control has been placed into the hands of the patients themselves.  Things like price-shopping and HCAHPS scores have paid a heavy toll on hospitals and independent physician practices alike, so what will it take to get “the flow back in tune,” as GE Healthcare calls it?

Eric Sharma, GE Healthcare Blogger focuses on the discordant “noise” in health care, that are upsetting the flow of success for patients and the things that are causing these “sounds.” The three main areas where practices and hospitals can improve are the following:

-       More effective scheduling processes to have seamless patient experiences

-       Updated technology to improve efficiency and accuracy

-       A fully focused staff (including the most important members of the staff… the physicians)

If these three concepts are implemented, the patient experience will be significantly improved, however the physicians’ engagement in the process is the water in the gravy, without them it’s all a big mess.  Blogger Stephen Wilkins, MPH brings up a valid point however.  How can physicians and the health care industry expect patients to be able to make educated decisions about their care and be fully engaged in the process, if the physician is not even engaged?  Now we are experiencing a very basic “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” debacle, because you cannot expect to see full commitment on either side without the involvement of both parties.

                                informed patient 

So, how can physicians get more involved in their own practice without taking too much away from their quality care?

-       Immerse themselves into the physician community by getting involved in a physician outreach program to develop a network of care.

-       Become involved in the online media reputation including blogging, social media and website activity, this means their own practice’s efforts as well as other influential leaders online.

-       Spend a little extra time face-to-face with patients in order to really HEAR them. Sir William Osler, said “listen to the patient they will tell you what’s wrong.”

(Photo from Patient Engagement Versus Physician Engagement – Which Comes First?)

The process isn’t rocket science.  If you want someone to be passionate about something, you have to first be the one to start the excitement.  You heard it here docs, get involved, your patients will thank you later.