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Bridging the expectations gap in the ER

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Catherine Polera, D.O.,  writing in MedPage Today, gives some advice on how to bridge  patients’ expectation gap in the ER. She is the chief medical officer overseeing clinical care of Sheridan Healthcare’s Division of Emergency Services.

“In today’s patient-centered environment, emergency department (and other) physicians need to focus not only on delivering quality care and lowering costs but also on ensuring patient satisfaction. Patient trust is important, not just in terms of survey results and reimbursement but also in terms of better outcomes, because patients who trust doctors share more information. So how can doctors make the right clinical decisions when those decisions conflict with patient expectations?Her three big pieces of advice:

  • “Educate patients. Explain the criteria needed to advise certain treatments. Use simple, easy-to-understand language and explain medical terms.
  • “Use third-party validation. Share the medical organizations or regulatory bodies that support your recommended treatment and yes, even reference Google.
  • “Gain patients’ trust. Answer each patient’s concerns and questions to make sure they understand the reasons for your recommended treatment and are satisfied with the care.
  • “Don’t rush, sit when possible and pause. Let the patients know you are there for them.”

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