Medical malpractice lawsuits are no longer based solely on medical errors or missed treatments. Many of these cases are becoming more about the experience of the patient: how he or she feels, and whether he or she felt they were treated fairly or felt mistreated. Also, tracking engagement experience is becoming more and more prevalent among healthcare providers. Here are some tips to mitigate risk and strengthen the patient experience.
- Speak Clearly and at a Sixth-Grade Level
It is important to recognize that the medical language providers are used to utilizing throughout school and with their peers is not always effective language to use with a patient. Most patients don’t understand medical jargon and terminology and can find themselves not fully understanding what the doctor is telling them.
2. Take Away the He Said/She Said
Many providers are starting to utilize recording devices during clinical consultations. One app, Medical Memory, records the clinical meeting on a HIPAA-compliant app. The app then sends a video both to the patient and to the provider for record. The benefit to patients is that they can review the important details of the appointment they may have missed. In addition, this takes away any "he said, she said" confusion about the care.
3. Recognize "White Coat" Syndrome
Many patients have a genuine fear of the doctor. They see a white coat and forget everything the provider has told them about their care. Recognize the anticipation and anxiety of a doctor appointment (especially one where patients may be learning their diagnosis). Take the time to acknowledge any patient anxiety and do what you can to make sure the patients in a relaxed space to really hear what you’re saying.
4. Use Images or Videos
Using resources to show treatment plans, models to explain surgery, and more, can be incredibly effective tools to help patients understand their care. For example, Medical Memory Inform allows providers to pre-record important content, informed consent conversations, pre-op/post-op, and more. Providers use this resource in the clinic, and patients also can access these resources at home. Often, the images and videos will help a patient understand the details, risks, and benefits better.
5. Track Patient Engagement and Ensure Complete Documentation
If you are using any patient engagement system, be sure that you’re documenting the ways you are going above and beyond to ensure your patient has the resources to understand. Many programs, like Medical Memory, have a system built in that shows whether patients have watched, or even shared medical content. Work with your team to ensure effective documentation in your practice of all conversations and resources presented to patients.
6. Pause to Empathize
Patients recall hearing their diagnosis. Many patients will say that after the provider has explained to them their diagnosis, that their mind went completely blank and they can’t recall almost anything the provider has stated afterwards. Take a moment to pause and empathize with patients after giving them their diagnosis. That way, when you start talking more about the treatment options, your patients are in a space where they are open to hearing it.
7. Establish a Good Relationship with Your Patients
It goes back to the age old quote, "you don’t sue your friends." Take the time to show kindness, respect, and true empathy and concern for your patients. Take the time to make sure you patients feel comfortable with you, taking 30 seconds to ask about work or family.
Medical Memory is a HIPAA-compliant app that pushes custom content to patients. Some providers will record live consultations and give patients a copy of these visits. Other practices will use the Inform tool where providers can prerecord important information for their clients (pre-op or post-op instructions, informed consent, logistics of surgery, etc). Both tools are saving providers time, mitigating risk, and strengthening the patient experience.