Physician empathy boosts patient satisfaction
A compassionate physician is the most important element of a positive patient experience, according to a recent study.
Researchers found that patients had better health outcomes and were more pleased with their care when they felt their doctor was empathetic.
Medical skills are significant in hand and orthopedic surgery, but “this study shows that physician empathy is the best opportunity to improve the patient experience,” said principal investigator Dr. David Ring, an orthopedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, in a news release.
This study demonstrates that the quality of medical care is not only judged by the technical skills of the physician, but patients value good bedside manner when considering the overall experience.
Interestingly, the study shows patient satisfaction was not affected by wait time for an appointment or total time in the office; including time spent with the surgeon, resident or fellow involvement, whether or not patients were seeking a second opinion or type of treatment.
“Empathizing with patients is very important because it proves to the patient that his or her concerns have been truly heard and understood by their provider,” says Dr. Anthony Weston, a family medicine physician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.
Dr. Weston says that empathy does not only improve patient satisfaction, but also the quality of care we provide.
“As physicians we are treating the whole person. If we lose our empathy we really are failing to meet the psychological and spiritual needs of patients,” he says. “The overall quality of care then really suffers if needs are left unmet.”
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