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How to Train Physicians on Patient Experience

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, December 12, 2012

1.Introduce Yourself
"When entering a patient's room, it's not enough to politely ask a patient how they are doing," Rudolph says. "It's critical to acknowledge them by name and introduce yourself, particularly if you don't have a pre-existing relationship."

2.Sit Down
"Physicians often forget the value of sitting down when conducting patient encounters in the office and the hospital," he says. "Sitting down conveys that the provider is engaged and has adequate time for the patient."

3.Avoid or Explain Jargon
"Avoiding or explaining medical jargon is a critical piece of quality patient communication that many providers struggle with," he says.

"Knowing that it can be challenging to explain medical conditions and terminology to patients, it becomes that much more important to tackle perhaps the most important pearl of patient communication which is to verify patients' understanding and ask if they have any questions."

Learning to better communicate with physicians and staff
Sound Physician's patient experience training also teaches physicians to better communicate with other doctors, nurses, and hospital staff.

"Because we understand that our communication with other members of the patient care team is also critical to the patient experience, we educate our physicians and hospital nursing staff about the concept of 'managing up' and have specific tools that assist doctors and nurses in taking advantage of key opportunities to position one another in a positive light," Rudolph says.

Physician groups also review HCAHPS scores monthly or quarterly, depending on availability, as a mechanism for training and feedback. Physician leaders can then use existing educational tools to hone in on areas that appear to require further focus.

The hospitalists are also briefed on how the patient experience ties into current healthcare policy and its financial implications for the group's partner hospitals. Sound Physician leadership provides up to date education about the government's Value Based Purchasing program and the role that HCAHPS scores play in determining the program's impact.

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