Healthcare Blog of Dr. Remo Aguilar

Loyal patient watchers..

in Medicine/Personal by
Communication, patient-provider (photo taken from http://www.aafp.org/fpm/1999/0500/p23.html )

I was doing my usual morning rounds last tuesday when a watcher of one of my patients approached me before I saw their patient in his bed. This watcher mentioned that someone went inside their patient’s room and asked questions that raised the curiosity of the family. The watcher spoke a different dialect and though I understood most of what she’s trying to convey, she fumbled with words and was obviously concerned at the “questioning” incident. I asked about the details of the incident, but none of them can give me a clear idea what was the “questioning” all about.. All I can deduce from the watchers was that someone asked them and “implied” a question of competency  and thus are worried about their decisions in seeking my care.

Unfortunately, none of the watchers asked (they are probably too shy or too gentle) the name nor remembered the identity of the person. They describe the interviewer as wearing a white dress and was asking other questions like “Why go to this hospital?” or “Who told you or referred you to this institution?”.

I asked the family then if this did affect their perception of my competency. I heard a resounding “Hindi po” or “No, it didn’t”.

I suddenly remembered who the interviewer could be. None of these watchers realized  that the interviewer was actually  doing a sanctioned survey.  I have yet to encounter this response variance (meaning, the watcher doubted competency as a result of being interviewed) in any surveys I’ve been involved. This however pointed out one thing- a communication gap between the interviewer and the interviewee. The interviewer broke protocols by not introducing herself (blinding?) which rose suspicion and doubts on the part of the interviewee. Imagine what a simple mistake like this evoking a different response!

I  felt relieved discovering this fact but was bothered by the communication gap. I spent more time explaining the survey and placate these watchers apprehensions. This time spent explaining will go a long way protecting a provider’s image from a simple neglect of introducing oneself before any patient or watcher’s interaction.

So doubts? Nah. But I’m sure that staff will have something to learn from communications 101!

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).

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