Knowing What to Expect

As a result of a recent injury, I have experienced more of the healthcare system in the last two months than perhaps my entire life. While I certainly wish this wasn’t the case, it has provided me the opportunity to look at each physician, each test, each procedure, and each therapy session through the eyes of the patient. 

One of the greatest deficiencies I have identified throughout my journey — and therefore a tremendous opportunity for healthcare providers — is knowing what to expect.

You may perform the same services or procedures day in and day out, but for your patient, it is new, uncomfortable and sometimes scary. And the uncertainty of what to expect — what is normal — can lead to confusion, fear and anxiety — three things that hinder any healing process.  

Here are a few suggestions to address this:

  1. Take the time to look at everything you do — each step — from a new patient’s perspective. 
  2. Educate your staff to do the same. 
  3. When possible, provided detailed patient education on what to expect prior to a visit or procedure. Information is power. This can be provided on the phone when the appointment is set, on your web site, through an e-mail or text message, or printed. Again, be sure to share this with your team and solicit their input.
  4. Talk to your patient throughout their visit, test or procedure. Let them know where they are in the process and explain what will happen next — what they will need to do, how long it will take, what they might feel, and what is “normal.” 
  5. Provide follow-up education and instructions if appropriate — again, this can be verbally before they leave, but also consider a follow-up phone call, printed instructions and adding it to the patient education section of your web site.

In today’s healthcare environment, the patient experience matters more than ever before. Frequently, they are surveyed after their visit and asked about the experience and each of the care providers they encountered. This is then reflected back to the practice. Differentiate your practice by empowering your patients with information to help them feel comfortable, cared for and confident in their health journey.