Expert: How Bedside Manner Affects the Bottom Line

Joseph Coniglio (Courtesy of: Greenberg Traurig)

In the age of Big Data and electronic health records, it is easy to forget that the heart of the relationship between a patient and a health care provider is based on trust and personal interaction during the course of treatment. Mistakes inevitably happen in the workplace, but the patient’s relationship with the provider before they occur goes a long way in determining how that patient will react to inherently negative situations.

For example, positive interactions between patients and healthcare providers can help control risk of complaints and malpractice actions that are detrimental to the provider’s reputation and financial bottom line.

Indeed, bedside manner does matter. Human nature tends to make people want to reward those who treat them well and punish those who do not. How a provider addresses issues with a patient when they arise will impact whether the issues will be resolved or lead to litigation that will be a financial risk as well as a distraction for the provider and the business operations. Moreover, the feelings your patient has about you may impact the speed in which they pay their portion of the bill related to their procedure. If you treat people with respect and kindness, you are more likely to be able to effectively address issues that arise and find yourself getting paid sooner rather than later.

So how can you improve the relationship you have with patients? Some of the advice in that regard is going to vary, depending on the doctors and the health care facilities involved. But there are some concepts that generally hold true throughout. Consider these three tips:

Be Present

The Institute for Health Care Excellence identifies that 50 percent of preventable errors in the health care workplace result from breakdowns in communication among members of the care team. These breakdowns can be as extreme as a wrong-site procedure or as nuanced as a patient feeling that his or her physician is not attentive to a complaint. Together, these micro-events chip away at the trust you are trying to create with the patient. Staying “present” as it relates to the communication with the patient and the care team is the first step to avoid this breakdown.

Elicit Feedback

Consider a way to reach out to patients to get feedback on their experience at your facility. Whether it is an in-person discussion or a survey, finding out about challenges and opportunities to improve is the key to a healthy relationship with a patient. It also provides a forum for a patient to articulate concerns and feel that they are part of the solution.

Create a Caring Culture

The patient’s impression of you and your facility starts to form the second they walk through the front door and those first impressions will often weigh heavily on their overall experience. Creating a culture that emphasizes customer service and acknowledges those who go above and beyond to foster a positive patient experience can impact patient satisfaction.

It will also help alleviate issues when they inevitably arise.

Joe Coniglio is Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Dallas office. He has wide-ranging experience in health care law and works with a variety of health care related entities and providers including hospitals, physician groups, long term care facilities, as well as clinical labs and pharmacies in litigation and transactional matters.

This article reflects the opinions of the author, and not of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. The article is presented for informational purposes only and it is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice nor as a solicitation of any type.


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