6 Core Elements of Improving Patient Interaction

For many patients, a long wait at the doctor’s office is just accepted as part of their day. Overworked healthcare professionals, often working insane hours to match up to the patient loads, is the usual norm. But healthcare is changing, and patient interaction is one of the key aspects that will benefit from the change. Improving clinical interactions start with the time a patient enters the doctor’s clinic or hospital and continues into the follow-up. These 6 core elements of care are the focal points of many physicians who strive to improve overall patient interaction, despite all the external pressures. Physicians and office staff in many practices are focusing on things such as:

1. Quick and reasonable access to the patient’s next appointment. It’s not always possible to get in to see your doctor on the same day you call, but waiting for months for a visit is a thing of the past for many providers. They may offer bridging clinicians, follow-up clinics or other support staff, as alternate intermediaries.

2. Immediate prescription and referral communication. Technology has improved to the point where you rarely have to bring a paper prescription to the pharmacy and wait for them to fill it. Instead, wall mounted workstations for healthcare let the provider utilize their computers while simultaneously talking to the patient, with everything available at the press of a button.

3. All-inclusive care. Specialists are still necessary for referrals of complex patients, but many doctors are part of networks where these referrals are easily transferred without hassle. All-inclusive care, for holistic clinical management, refers to the patient’s healthcare needs as an individual rather than as a malfunctioning organ system.

4. Focus on full recovery, not “feeling better.” Physicians need to work together with patients on finding the root cause of their ailment and addressing or managing it, thus helping their patients “get better,” not just “feel better.”

5. Patient-oriented service. From the time the patient walks into the clinic, to the time they leave, and even beyond that, they should feel welcomed and important. Physicians who know that how patients are treated by their office staff reflects on them as a whole and focus on providing “service with a smile” are always fondly remembered and positively evaluated by patients.

6. Instant access to your patient information. In the past, if you wished to transfer your records to another physician, you would have to pick them up to have for yourself, or look up the results of testing, you had to wait until the busy office staff in charge completed the work for you. Today, through patient web portals, you have instant access to all of the sensitive information pertaining to you at your fingertips.

As a patient, your needs are important and your dignity is not up for compromises. There needs to be compassionate care, with the patient’s desires forming a key component of the process of evidence based healthcare.

Skeptic Oslerphile. Public Health Scientist and Program Manager, Translational Global Health Policy Research Cell, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Past: Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases; Senior Research Associate, Public Health Foundation of India. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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