The Importance Of A Good Bedside Manner

Bedside of a hospital bed with a laid down patient in the background

How often do you wonder about how your patients would rate your bedside manner? It is important to look at ways you can improve this vital part of your practice. Yes, your patients will have a better experience with you and will likely respond to treatment faster if your bedside manner is good, or better yet, great. Beyond that, your practice can thrive as you increase these skills.

A new US survey conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago has found that people focus on the quality and depth of their relationship with their physician more than on the quality of service provided. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded this survey. Still wondering if bedside manner is worth the effort? Researchers were particularly interested in determining what factors were important to people as they chose a doctor. Over a thousand adult participants were polled about what they felt was most important in their choice of physician.

When these people asked what were the deciding issues to signal their physician was a “high-quality doctor,” most of the responses were about the doctor’s personality and an excellent doctor-patient relationship. Specifically, if the doctor cares, listens, and has a good bedside manner. Such issues were listed 59% as leading factors. Increasing your bedside manner then seems to center around a few basic ideas. No complex or lengthy training is required. Take the extra minute or two to listen and explain what’s needed and expected from the patient to get better. Listening for a minute can also provide you with vital information in treating the patient. Showing you care can occur with simple actions. Warm the stethoscope, or let them know what you are about to do. Make their time with you as pleasant as possible, and they won’t dread that visit next time – whether high end doctors or in medical supply business.

Farther down the list in the survey and less often mentioned, participants said the doctor’s experience, training, medical ethics or education was a key factor. A few items physicians might want to consider for future dealings with their patients that are not necessarily true “bedside” but could bring the patient to the bedside in a more accepting mindset include easy access to costs they might be paying out-of-pocket. Referrals for your services from satisfied patients on your website or poster at reception is another consideration. Using the patient’s initials and a city reference will protect their privacy. A patient’s most trusted source for finding a doctor comes from family members and friends.

The great news is that approximately 80% of those surveyed were happy with their doctors and felt they received very good or good care. Over 75% are willing to recommend their current doctor to friends or family. Your bedside manner can put you in the 80% category with just a little effort and will help your practice to grow stronger and larger.

Eric Vainer is the Chairman of Dear Feet and the Director of Pala Community Care. Vainer is an expert on corporate culture and a heralded entrepreneur from New York.

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