Good bedside manner is no longer optional

The often rude, brusque manner of doctors is well-known, tolerated by the health industry for years due to the high stress of the job and the fact that many of these physicians generate a lot of revenue for hospitals. But that is slowly changing due to the shift to consumer-driven healthcare and value-based payments.

Indeed, many hospitals no longer will tolerate bad behavior and have set up training programs to encourage doctors to be sensitive and responsive to patient needs, according to Kaiser Health News. Research shows that hospitals that make a commitment to compassionate care also report increased patient and caregiver satisfaction.

For example, Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts and Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, require medical residents to take courses that teach them to be empathetic, the article said. Other organizations encourage doctors to send handwritten follow-up notes to patients or coach physicians on how to talk to patients.

The Cleveland Clinic provides physicians with patient feedback each quarter to help doctors improve their bedside manner, according to KHN. And the University of Rochester Medical Center recognizes physicians who demonstrate compassion in monthly notes sent to the hospital faculty.

 "These practices are pretty simple things--recognizing people publicly for giving especially compassionate care," Tim Vogus, an associate professor of management at Vanderbilt University who has researched the link between compassionate care and patient satisfaction, told KHN. But those hospitals that make the effort do notice a spike in patient satisfaction scores, he said.

Sheridan Healthcare, a national hospital-based, multispecialty practice management company, is working with its emergency room doctors to make them realize the importance of patient satisfaction in part for that very reason, Catherine Polera, M.D., chief medical officer for Sheridan's emergency medicine division, told FierceHealthcare last week. But there is more to it, she said.  

"This is not just important to hospitals because it basically affects the bottom line," Polera said. "It's important because patient satisfaction will lead to better outcomes. If patients trust the doctor and the doctor gets the information they need from the patient, there is better communication. And it's more than just getting a high survey number. It's a patient safety issue so this is a good thing."

To learn more:
- read the KHN article