I want to share my patient experience in healthcare. While I was explaining my recent hospitalization to a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throats. Not only did he cut me off and say “Move it along”, he made the rolling hand motion that went with it.
Yes, He Really Did Do It!
I want to say I was surprised by my doctors actions, but I wasn’t. Caring has been abandoned by many working in the health “care” environment which directly affects each patient’s healthcare experience. Needless to say, I’m not going back to him and I reported his behavior to the referring doctor. I hope my primary care doctor thinks twice before sending anyone else to that specialist again.
Lack of Caring Really Does Affect a Patient’s Experience
An article published by The National Institute of Health described caring as:
- Close observation
- Precise listening
- Responsive questioning
- Action directly addressing the other person’s problem
- No assumptions that you understand the other’s experience
- There are other factors but none of them included, “move it along”.
How Can You Help Your Experience as a Patient?
Start by being nice and letting the provider know that you know their time is valuable, and you appreciate being seen. Validate your belief that he or she has the experience to help you and that you hope that will be the case.
Give the provider feedback on his or her behavior. Share how it affects the patient experience in healthcare. I want to believe that no one starts out to be rude or care “less”. But, often no one tells the provider how their behavior is perceived. You can say, “that comment (or behavior) makes me think you don’t care about my problem or maybe this is just a bad day.” Whatever you say, say it kindly.
On the other hand, when a health professional is kind and displays caring, be sure to notice and comment on it. “Thank you for understanding how important this is to me. Or, I appreciate you taking your time to understand my problem.” Like any other relationship, reinforce the behavior you want to see. Yes, it may be the provider’s job to be nice, but the role of a health professional can be incredibly stressful and that may result in a care-“less” approach.
Finally, if you get repeat demonstrations of non-caring, it’s time to go elsewhere (unless this is your only option within 100 miles of you). Don’t just leave, but tell the provider why. Again, do it kindly. Writing a note may be the easiest way to communicate that. If you were referred by another provider, let that person know about your experience.
This process may not result in better caring behavior, but you will feel you have taken charge of your healthcare. And that makes you feel better.
Love and Best of Health,
Shawn Harrell, MS, RN, Co-founder, CNO