Good Bedside Manners Make a Difference
Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer
With health care employers increasingly measuring patient satisfaction levels and rewarding their employees for providing high-quality customer service, health professionals are realizing a good bedside manner is more important than ever. Good bedside manners not only improve interactions with patients, but also advance health professionals’ careers. Evidence suggests those who have strong relationships with their patients are less likely to get sued, and may be more likely to move up the professional ranks.
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Physicians who communicate well are less likely to be sued for malpractice than poor communicators, says Dr. Greg Schneider, assistant professor of family practice and community medicine at UT Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. “There is a clear association between rapport with patients and incidence of lawsuits,” Schneider says. In addition, Schneider has observed situations where intuitive physicians who have the ability to connect with patients thrive in a group medical practice, while less-personable physicians flounder.
In hospital settings, health professionals who effectively relate to patients and families are also rewarded. At Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, employees’ performance appraisals include an evaluation of soft skills like respect, courtesy, listening and anticipating patients’ needs. The hospital offers skill-building opportunities for nurses and other employees on topics such as how to keep families best informed of their loved ones’ conditions.
“I think there has been a much stronger emphasis on the service aspect of the whole health care experience,” says Maureen Mahoney, a nurse who is the corporate manager for service excellence at Children’s Memorial Hospital. The best way for health workers to learn good bedside manners is by example, she says. “Our leaders need to be good role models for what good bedside manner looks like. You don’t necessarily learn some of this in school, but it really makes a difference for patients and families.”