Healthcare is personal. Whether it’s a routine checkup, post-survey visit, a restricted diet regimen, weight management, genetics, or even allergies, whatever the patient’s needs, everyone has their own set of behaviors, preferences, beliefs, and motivations, which make us all unique individuals. So why do so many aspects of healthcare seem like a “one-size-fits-all” approach? There are many standardizations in healthcare, which can often leave a patient feeling as if they are just one of the masses. While there may be useful applications for standard procedures, standard protocols, clinical pathways, surgical checklists, and evidence-based treatment plans, a patient’s care and experience can still be very be personalized.
Personalized care ensures that each patient is made to feel like an individual rather than just “one of many.” Below are five best practices to making the patient experience feel more personal.
- Use personal gestures- Encourage every team member to us the patient’s name in verbal and written communication such as letters, emails, and texts. Using what may seem to be a small gesture can also go a long way in making the patient feel special. For example, greeting patients with a smile, listening to what the patient has to say, and repeating the patient’s requests or concerns back to them is an effective technique. Showing support by offering a box of tissues if a patient is upset or sick, or a glass of water if they are coughing, or by simply saying, “is there anything that I can do to make you more comfortable while you’re waiting” means a lot. There are many caring gestures that can show patients you are invested in their health and well-being.
- Take a personal interest- Instruct staff to find out something personal about the patient and include it as part of their interactions. It is amazing what can be discovered with just a few simple questions. Often expressing a personal interest can have a positive effect, both on the patient-provider relationship as well as the patient’s adherence to their treatment plan. Below are a few simple questions that can be asked:
- What should we know about you in order to provide better care?
- What do you like to do for fun? What are your interests?
- What is most important to you regarding your healthcare?
Personalized care is an important part of the patient experience and can be a determining factor in patient loyalty. Helping patients feel cared for, respected, engaged, educated, and involved in decision-making is not only the right thing to do it has been linked to better compliance, improved recovery and outcomes, and higher patient satisfaction.