Impact of bedside manner on patient outcome

Whilst enhancing the patient experience and patient satisfaction, there are various factors that play an important role in taking care of a patient holistically. One of them which assists in ameliorating the overall health of a patient tremendously is the bedside manner of the caregiver.

In healthcare facilities, the bedside manner of a healthcare professional speaks profusely about their etiquettes and is a reflection of the culture shared by the healthcare facility itself. It is imperative for the administration to set a certain tone which is echoed throughout the organization in its day to day working. The bedside manner which is one of the features that emulates the empathetic emotion of a healthcare facility towards its patient, is not only the key to a patient’s health but also to their trust.

Trust is a significant cohesive force essential in strengthening any relationship as it is for a doctor-patient connection as well. A patient’s trust issues with their doctor or any member of the caregiver’s team can substantially affect their health.

In many instances, when a patient feels disconnected from their healthcare team especially in the vulnerable position that they’re in, they may hold back from sharing certain informative details about their health which can be crucial in understanding patient history or may help with the course of treatment.

This is exactly where a medical professional’s communication skills come into play. To develop the trust of a patient one should create a favorable environment for the interaction. This entails, first and foremost, respecting the vulnerability of the patients and by extension validating their concerns effectively.

Understandably, not every healthcare professional is charismatic or a born charmer and may not have top notch communicative skills to engage their patients. Therefore, more heed should be paid in developing a skill which is so imperative to the treatment and even diagnosis in many cases.

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Medical schools are now incorporating the bedside manner as one of the teaching modules to help aspiring doctors develop this skill of building a good rapport with their patients. They’re cultivating confidence in this competency through simulations of the scenarios with their peers and teachers at med-school. Dr. Bernard Remakus, Internist and author says, “the ability to convey genuine concern about and interest in a patient is an integral and inseparable part of the medical communications process” and rightly so.

It can get extremely busy in a healthcare facility with a plethora of patients. Yet this time crunch should not be a reason for any healthcare professional to shy away from spending an appropriate interaction time with the patient and their family. This is even more vital for the primary care provider i.e. the physician.

The intercommunication time should concentrate on educating the patient and their family about the medications involved, the healing process and getting their consent. Days that are heavily swamped which is almost everyday, smart way to work around it for a doctor or nurse is to pay attention to their own body language.

They should ensure a calm demeanor when addressing the concerns or discussing the course of treatment and not seem rushed. Taking out a few minutes and sitting with the patient as well as their family at the bedside making eye contact and acknowledging their emotions, will undeniably work wonders in bringing back the patient to their wholesome selves.

In doing so, one should be careful of not burdening the patient or their family with medical jargon but speak the language of the patient. Hence, a confident and honest delivery of a simplified comprehensive vocabulary to prevent getting them overwhelmed. Apart from honing the communication skills, brushing on some active listening skills will also help in attaining success at patient care.

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Cumulatively, it results in a productive conversation which involves a doctor’s prowess in heading the conversation to its utmost efficiency and graciously bringing a patient back on track when they deviate from it. Exhibiting that you value a patient’s time as much as your own will instill confidence in the patient and make them feel respected.

A good bedside manner creates a huge impact on patient experience. People usually visit a health facility under some stress of an illness they’re looking to get a cure for. Constructing an affable and empathetic ambience instead of a morbid one, will not only uplift the spirits of the patient but also their family.

Provision of a personal and individualized care will lead to lesser errors, malpractice lawsuits and will accelerate the recovery time post discharge as well. Healthcare professionals who project a pleasant bedside manner are viewed by patients as the providers of high-quality medical care.

Writer’s note – Let’s not look at a patient as a disease but see them as a human. Let us constantly remind ourselves to appreciate the importance of compassion. Striving to put a smile on every patient before they walk out of a healthcare facility will lead to resolving much bigger problems that are embedded in the healthcare delivery system. A good bedside manner is all about hearing and healing, an unusual combination of informality and dignity, calming the fears and providing hope.

The writer is an Entrepreneurial Biotechnologist with a strong passion for quality healthcare, patient advocacy & patient education.

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